EARL OF WHIMSY

Zany Brit Bill Bai­ley com­bines his mu­si­cal skills with his abil­ity to make ‘em laugh on his tour Down Un­der, which in­cludes a gig at The Star

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY - LOUISE O’MARA

Bill Bai­ley is some­thing of an anom­aly. He is a damn fine mu­si­cian and a great comic artist, so it makes sense that his shows in­volve com­bin­ing the two.

The UK en­ter­tainer is well known for his role on Black Books as well as shows such as QI and Never Mind the Buz­zcocks.

He last toured our coun­try in 2016 and this time around he is hit­ting new places.

“It is al­ways fun, at the top of your fan­tas­tic is­land,” he says.

“I have been tour­ing Aus­tralia for a good num­ber of years now, so I try to sort of get round to var­i­ous parts, bits I haven’t seen – each tour I try to ex­plore a new bit of it.”

His lat­est of­fer­ing is the Earl of Whimsy tour, which Bai­ley jokes came to him in a fever­ish dream.

“It’s a name I came up with for my­self. I just thought it was about time I gave my­self a nick­name,” he says.

“I get called things all the time – I get called the Jedi of Jux­ta­po­si­tion. But I thought it sums up a lot of things, it is a bit of nod to aris­to­cratic pre­ten­sions, a bit of English ec­cen­tric­ity.

“But it is all the things that are re­ally el­e­ments to the show – which is a bit of his­tory, sto­ries, anec­dotes, flights of fan­cies, tan­gents, tales, trav­eller tales and just some his­tor­i­cal re-tellings of strange bits of his­tory. So it kind of seems like an ap­pro­pri­ate name.”

For any­one who is yet to wit­ness the bril­liance of Bai­ley, his stand-up is among the best, but also fea­tures a lot of mu­sic in the show.

“There’s tra­di­tional standup, which is just jokes and sto­ries that hap­pen to me and per­sonal recollections of japes and scrapes that have hap­pened to me in the last 20 years as a tour­ing comic,” he says.

“Then I use a lot of pi­ano, gui­tar, in­ter­est­ing in­stru­ments. I like to mix up styles like, for ex­am­ple, I do a ver­sion of Old Mac­Don­ald in the style of Tom Waits. Which is kinda a bluesy, late-room bar ver­sion of a very well-known nurs­ery rhyme. That’s the thing I like to do.

“I like to mix up styles and jux­ta­pose them, dis­man­tle jokes, mess with the mu­sic of com­edy that’s why I find it’s great fun.”

A great part of Bai­ley’s show in­volves au­di­ence par­tic­i­pa­tion – fair warn­ing to the guests in the room.

“I like to get the au­di­ence in­volved. I ask them ques­tions, we have a lit­tle quiz, I like to ban­ter, like to have a con­ver­sa­tion I call it,” he says.

“It’s fun for me as well. Be­cause I’m do­ing a big tour. I’ve been tour­ing around in the UK quite a bit so in or­der for it to be fun and fresh for me I like to in­volve the au­di­ence and build that sec­tion into the show. You don’t quite know what’s go­ing to hap­pen, but that’s the fun of it.”

As for what in­stru­ments to ex­pect on stage, Bai­ley has a spe­cial new one he has been prac­tis­ing for the tour.

“Some­body bought and gave to me a won­der­ful thing called a hang drum,” he says.

“Which is ba­si­cally like a steel drum which is con­cave, but this is a con­vex ver­sion, it looks like a weird UFO with dim­ples on it and you play it with light taps with the side of your thumbs, but it makes a beau­ti­ful res­o­nant sound.

“It’s a strange mag­i­cal sound, the near­est thing would be a metal­lic marim­bat­ype sound, I am try­ing to in­cor­po­rate that into the show.”

And fi­nally I ask the ques­tion every­one al­ways asks him: will there be a Black Books re­vival?

“Well it would be fun, you never rule these things out,” he teases.

“I don’t know. I know Dy­lan (Moran, co­me­dian and co-star) is do­ing his thing up in Ed­in­burgh very busy with act­ing, so who knows what might hap­pen.” Bill Bai­ley’s Earl of Whimsy tour plays The Star Theatre on Satur­day. For tick­ets and more info go to abp­re­sents.com.au

Ac­claimed Bri­tish co­me­dian and mu­si­cian Bill Bai­ley is bring­ing his Earl of Whimsy tour to The Star on Satur­day.

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