Ref NoBSUCA/OD/1/39
CollectionOliver Double Collection
TitleHarry Hill interviewed by Oliver Double
Name of creatorDouble, Oliver, 1965-
Date26/08/2004
Duration42 min. 17 sec.
Extent1 sound disc (MiniDisc) (80min)
1 audio file Broadcast WAVE Format (BWF)
DescriptionHarry Hill interviewed by Oliver Double on 26th August 2004, by telephone. This interview was conducted by Double for his book 'Getting the Joke: The Inner Workings of Stand-Up Comedy' (2005) .

Summary: [00:25] “How long have you been doing comedy?” [00:35] Student revues as a medical student, saw comedy at cabaret shows [00:53] 10 open spots over about 2 years [01:20] 1990, gave up medicine, bought a copy of Time Out. [01:47] Meccano Club [01:57] Harry Hill talks about the number of hours he worked as a Hospital doctor [02:10] Harry Hill discusses how he was never going to be a GP or a psychiatrist
[02:40] Comic influences. Comparisons to Ronnie Corbett and Harry Worth by critics. [03:10] Harry Hill started as a deadpan comic, heroes from cabaret clubs were Stewart Lee, Jack Dee, Norman Lovett, Arnold Brown and Jo Brand, [04:27] Harry Hill says that his problem with being a deadpan comedian was that he used to smile a lot
[04:59] Critics called him post-modern, Al Murray explains to him what this means, copying an old style, using old things that have already been done. [05:47] Discussion about the difference and relationship between character comedians and comedians like Billy Connolly who are the same onstage as they are offstage. [07:43] The freedom of saying something outrageous or obscure as a character and getting a huge laugh, Al Murray with a similar gag, misdirecting and tricking the audience. [09:00] Oliver Double talks about seeing one of his routines of Saturday Live and discusses it with Ross Noble when he used to run a club in Sheffield
[10:48] Discussion about writing process [11:43] Harry Hill compares his work ethic to revision when he was a medical student [12:22] Venues for warm-up gigs, Hampstead Comedy Club, around the circuit, difficult to try out material [13:04] opening for Ivor Dembina. [14:22] Harry Hill says he can’t bear rehearsing
[15:45] planning a five minute spot on TV, [16:00] Des O’Connor, Saturday Night Live. [17:24] Oliver Double says Al Murray’s act similarly stood out in the live floor show [17:45] quick-fire gags work well on TV, why Eddie Izzard never did TV. [18:24] Good memory, lots of small details and recurring threads, [18:44] Tim Vine’s act is similar, [18:53] Alan Davies does a series of gags about a single subject or two. [19:15] Discussion about paranoia about the length of a set [19:29] Harry Hill cites Lee Hurst as policing the time a comedian has been on for [19:54] Emo Philips,
[20:29] Discussion about a live phenomenon like stand-up as a recorded product, such as albums and DVDs. [21:01] Harry Hill discusses how Avalon DVD give him all the control [21:58] Discussion about Harry Hill’s reincorporation and running gags. [23:50] Harry Hill discusses how his act has changed to become more gag oriented and less non-sequitur.
[24:33] Discussion about distinctive frames of reference, pop culture references and old-fashioned references. [25:30] Sohoho club run by Paul Duddridge.
[26:43] Rhyming and childish pleasure of playing with language. [27:25] Audience participation and Frank Skinner, [28:11] Harry Hill discusses hecklers. [28:29] discussion about the relationship between the comedian and the audience. [29:18] Ian MacPherson.
[30:25] discussion about comedic rhythm and economy of words. [33:15] discussion about and not doing the stage persona in TV interviews. [34:58] Harry Hill admires Tommy Cooper and Eric Morecambe for doing the persona all the time.
[35:40] Mort Sahl and Lenny Bruce introduced the idea of stand-up being self-expression in the 50s, discussion about whether Harry Hill’s material is self-expression and whether it means anything, ridiculousness says something about the human condition, [36:55] discussion about how Tim Vine does wordplay and comedy is about comedy, compares him to Tommy Cooper. [38:05] anyone who writes their own act is an artist [38:27] the comedy of Jim Davidson and ‘The Comedians’ isn’t art but craft.
[39:39] discussion about the origins of the costume, and what a comedian should wear on stage.
[41:42] interview ends.
Notes1 MiniDisc, digitised to LPCM wave 16 bit 44.1kHz. Digitised using Sony Minidisc Deck MDS-JE53; Roland Edirol UA-25; and Adobe Audition CC 2014. 2016-03-21.
CategoryAudio recordings
Access conditionsAvailable for consultation at the University of Kent's Special Collections & Archives reading room, Templeman Library, University of Kent, Canterbury, CT2 7NU. Access is available via digital listening copies. The University of Kent acknowledges the intellectual property rights of those named as contributors in this recording and the rights of those not identified.
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