Tomorrow night one of Britain’s most celebrated grumpy old men will be appearing at the Core Theatre in Corby. I know this because last week I had the privilege of chatting with the incomparable comedian and writer Arthur Smith. (Interview). Arthur was one of the ‘new wave’ of alternative comedians to emerge from the early 80’s. To that point he was no stranger to the stage, having performed in reviews at the Edinburgh Festival whilst at University, and, of course, with his band The Results. From an early age, growing up in Bermondsey, South London, he says he loved the sound of shared laughter and that he was able, through his ‘showing off’, to generate that laughter, over and over again. He’d thought, at one stage in his youth, that he may be a writer as that was something that he enjoyed and had come to him very naturally. He’s since proved himself to be an accomplished playwright (an Evening with Gary Lineker comes to mind). His sardonic delivery and endearing demena has ensured his place as a ‘must-see’ performer. I found Arthur to be one of the most approachable, witty and intelligent people I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing. I asked him why he’d called his recently published tome My Name is Daphne Fairfax: A Memoir.
“It’s a joke that I’ve done for many years’ explained Arthur.’ Good evening everybody, my name’s Arthur Smith, unless there’s anyone here from Streatham tax office in which case my name is Daphne Fairfax. Then I did actually get a letter from a real Daphne Fairfax, who’s a pensioner in Essex, who said ‘ I didn’t understand what was happening, there appeared to be a book about me, then I worked out it was about you, and I hadn’t read a book for ten years, and I really enjoyed it’. He say’s the whole object of his performing exercise is to make people laugh as he delivers his one liners, anecdotes about his miss-spent past and, of course, the odd poem or two. Making people think or recoil in horror when he sings and, when they leave the theatre, make them a little bit wiser and amused than before they went in. Oh, and Watch out for a surprise appearance by ‘Leonard Cohen’ though, I’m afraid to say that Arthur’s naked lady, who is oft to be seen running around the theatres in which he performs, will not be strutting her stuff in Corby. Arthur says he wants to know more about the town of Corby and its people which will no doubt lead to the odd interesting moment of audience participation, though he won’t be attempting the Scottish, or any other accents, as he’s more than aware that this is something with which he’s less comfortable. Arthur once declared at the Edinburgh Festival that he would pay £100 to any journalist attending his show who would juggle fish. From on grumpy old man to another, I wouldn’t miss this show for the world!