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
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.