It's Phoenix Nights at the Trades Club! Comedy legend Peter Kay performs surprise gig in Calderdale 27 April 2009
By Cathy Neligan
COMEDY legend Peter Kay stunned punters in a Calderdale club when he took to the stage for an impromptu set. The star of Phoenix Nights and Max and Paddy is more used to filling the biggest venues in the country with his down-to-earth northern humour, but he was at the Trades Club, Hebden Bridge, to introduce his old mate former Squeeze tunesmith Chris Difford.
The audience could scarcely believe their eyes when he grabbed the microphone unannounced. "I thought I was hallucinating when Peter jumped on to our little stage so it must been the same for everyone else. His impromptu comedy set before introducing Chris was hilarious," said Trades Club treasurer Paul Clarke.
"Peter is by far the biggest star ever to grace our club as he's more used to selling out the biggest arenas in the UK but he seemed to be at home and maybe he recognised that our club is a bit like the Phoenix Club but hopefully a bit better run! At one point Peter offered to host a meat auction before someone from the audience pointed out he was in Hebden Bridge, which probably has more vegetarians that anywhere else."
The Bolton comic settled down for Chris Difford's autobiographical set packed full of top 10 Squeeze hits before he was called upon to settle down a couple of loud customers.
"A couple of lads were talking very loudly during one of the onstage links and suddenly in his best Brian Potter voice Peter bellowed 'Come on lads, the turn is on', which quickly quietened them down", laughed Paul. "I think everyone who came along to the gig will always remember seeing one of our national comedy treasures up close and personal in such an intimate venue."
Peter Kay has said he isn't bothered about being successful in the States. The British funnyman was in LA to pick up the BAFTA/LA Best British Comedy Television Programme award for his show Britain's Got the Pop Factor. But when asked if he thought he could crack America, cheeky Pete said: "No. Nah, I've no intention or inclin - I'm not Russell Brand!"
In his show - a parody of TV talent shows such as The X Factor - he played Geraldine McQueen, a singing contestant who has had gender re-assignment surgery. "They've asked me to make one over here," he said. "They've said would I do one but, erm, we'll see. You know, I don't like being away from home. I miss my children and my wife too much."
Asked if he could do a good Susan Boyle impression, Peter giggled loudly. "Oh God love Susan Boyle. God love 'er. I've nothing more to say about Susan, except God love 'er and God bless 'er." He said he was "just passing" through the States and was only dropping into the ceremony before going to catch his flight.
Sharon Osbourne met Peter for the first time on the red carpet and told him she "wet myself in bed" watching Britain's Got the Pop Factor.
Peter Kay is to record a new charity single for this year's Children in Need appeal, which he says could be ï¿½another Amarilloï¿½. Like the 2005 Comic Relief song, Kayï¿½s video for the new track ï¿½ which has not yet been revealed ï¿½ will be a star-studded affair, featuring almost 100 famous faces.
Kay, 36, said: ï¿½It's taken two years of planning to create the video and I just know people are going to be both astonished and delighted. It's been a real labour of love but the result is joyous, potentially another Amarillo!ï¿½
Children in Need chief executive David Ramsden said: ï¿½We're sure Peter Kay's Midas touch will help to create an iconic charity single.ï¿½
That will be the most uploaded video on youtube this Friday!
Liam Gallagher throws his microphone into the audience at The Brit Awards 2010 Oasis Star's Furious Rant At Peter Kay
February 17, 2010
Sky News Online
Liam Gallagher has launched a furious Twitter tirade against comedian Peter Kay after a spat at the Brits award ceremony. The former Oasis star made a surprise appearance at the ceremony to accept the award for best Brits album of the past 30 years for (What's The Story) Morning Glory. But as he swaggered from the stage he hurled his award and microphone into the crowd.
The host of the show, Peter Kay, responded by calling him a "dickhead", getting one of the biggest laughs of the night. Gallagher responded angrily on his Twitter feed: "Listen up fat fuck as a real northerner I was brought up 2 say shit 2 people's faces not behind their back. Live forever LG"
The comedian is yet to respond to the remarks on his own Twitter feed, but is unlikely to be surprised at being the target of Gallagher's vitriol.
Brits broadcaster ITV, which censored Gallagher's foul-mouthed speech, said it had received two complaints about the coverage, one complaining about the Oasis frontman and one about Peter Kay. Meanwhile, a Facebook group set up to back Peter Kay's TV putdown to Gallagher has now attracted over 91,000 members.
Main event: Peter Kay
By Marissa Burgess
Back in December 2000, ahead of interviewing Peter Kay for a Manchester music magazine, I was given a preview copy of the first episode of Phoenix Nights to watch. It was immediately obvious that it was an idiosyncratically funny show; an uncannily accurate portrayal of a Bolton working men’s club and the bunch of offbeat but loveable characters that visited it.
Bolton-born, Kay knew how to send up the characters on the local club circuit better than most, although you couldn’t help but wonder whether Phoenix Night’s shtick – uniquely northern English and working class – would translate elsewhere. As it turned out, that first series became a gradual success as more and more people cottoned on to it, as Toby Hadoke, stand up, XSMalarkey comedy club promoter and bit part player in the series notes: “I think it was a word of mouth success, which I love about it.
“Television is chock-full of over-hyped things. If something is a creeping success that proves its quality, frankly.”
By the second BAFTA-winning series of Phoenix Nights, Kay and his characters were big stars. Two of them, Max and Paddy, even scored their own ‘vehicle’ – Road To Nowhere, a Channel 4 spin-off and live show performed in arenas across the country as part of his last outing, the Mum Wants A Bungalow Tour.
Kay, meanwhile, was increasingly mingling outside comedy circles. He played Roger DeBris in The Producers at Manchester’s Palace Theatre, scored bit parts on the big screen (including 24 Hour Party People) and even voiced a police officer in a Wallace & Gromit movie.
If that wasn’t enough, he’s had chart success too, masterminding the video for the £2m-grossing Comic Relief single (Is This The Way To) Amarillo with Tony Christie – long used by Kay as his live intro music – and repeated that success twice over with a Children In Need single last year, Proclaimers’ track (I’m Gonna Be) 500 Miles, fronted by Kay’s Phoenix Nights character Brian Potter. None of those, of course, trumps the moment he returned to our TV screens – with frock, wig and rouge – in 2008 with Britain’s Got The Pop Factor and another top ten hit, The Winner’s Song.
He’s the face of John Smith’s bitter, he hosted the Royal Variety Performance last year and the Brit Awards in February (most memorable for the war of four-letter words between him and Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher that began live on air) and popped up in Coronation Street, Dr Who and kids’ TV show Roary The Racing Car (as the voice of Big Chris).
Under his own steam, he’s written two autobiographies – The Sound Of Laughter and Saturday Night Peter – the first of which remains Britain’s biggest selling autobiography. It’s just another record broken; he still holds the record for the biggest selling British stand-up DVD for his Bungalow gigs.
Now 36, Kay sets out on his first tour in seven years on Tuesday, beginning with an incredible 20-date run at the M.EN Arena – the venue where he used to work as a yellow-coated usher. The Tour That Doesn’t Tour Tour was intended to be a way of avoiding a national trek and months away from his family. It hasn’t worked – another 50 dates have been added around the country before The Tour That Doesn’t Tour Tour... Now On Tour returns to Manchester for another 15 shows.
It’s an astonishing rags to riches story, and for those of us who have witnessed Kay’s rise it has been simultaneously extraordinary yet unsurprising that he has become such a massive star. Kay hit the local comedy scene in 1996. Having performed one gig during his stand-up course at Salford University, he ventured out on the circuit. He headed to the legendary Frog & Bucket’s Raw Night – a regular social spot for other local comedians, including Caroline Aherne.
“It was his first gig out of college,” recalls Frog & Bucket owner Dave Perkin. “He actually put it on the last video that he brought out, it was filmed by two students who did a two camera shoot at the old club.”
Kay then tried the equally legendary club The Buzz by calling the promoter, Agraman. “He’d actually rung me up to see if he could get an open mic spot,” he says. “There was such a long waiting list for that I said it would be quicker if he entered the competition at CityLife.”
The CityLife Comedian of the Year had run since 1990 and boasted the likes of Aherne and Kay’s co-writer Dave Spikey as its winners. Agraman requested an audio tape of Kay’s material but was less than impressed when he received it.
“There was quite a lot of effing and blinding so when I spoke to him I warned him, ‘Look, it’s probably not the sort of competition to do because of your act’. He said, ‘Oh no, that’s not my act.’ He’d never really performed before so he just put a tape recorder down whilst he and some mates were chatting in a pub.”
But it wasn’t to be the only hurdle Kay stumbled at. “He got drawn in the very first heat and was drawn first on the night, so he had that bad news, and he also had the trauma of the landlady telling him that she wasn’t very happy with him bringing his own food and drink in,” he recollects fondly. “He’d got some Rola Cola, or whatever his mother had given him, and some sandwiches or something and she didn’t like him bringing his own food into the pub.”
Meanwhile the then-relative newcomer Hadoke was gearing up for the same heat. “I first saw him in my heat of the City Life Comedian Of The Year – where he beat me,” laughs Hadoke. “He was brilliant, he was a natural and, when he ultimately won it, it was like when your football team loses and you want the team that beat your team to win the final.
“So when Peter won I thought, ‘ah well, at least I got knocked out by the winner’. He came from nowhere, he hadn’t been on the circuit. Some comics are journeymen who acquire the skill from years of bitter experience, but he had it from the minute he went on stage.”
Then Kay made life difficult for himself in the final when, as Agraman remembers, ‘he thought he had to write new material, so wrote a complete new fifteen minutes for the final’. But despite that, he romped home over the slightly more experienced favourite, Johnny Vegas – another household name these days. “Of course it was very, very close and all bets had closed that Johnny Vegas was going to win it that year,” recounts Agraman. “But he just pipped Johnny.”
With Kay’s natural talent highlighted by his competition win, he began to gather gigs. The Frog & Bucket’s Dave Perkin takes up the story: “The minute he walked in the building, the minute he went on stage, he just shone. I remember a well-known comedian, I won’t mention the name, actually complained to me that Peter Kay was too funny to compere the Frog & Bucket and it wasn’t fair on the other acts. That’s an actual quote! I’ve had many complaints about comedians over the years but never that they’re too funny,” chortles Perkin.
Hadoke recalls those days too. “I love the Frog but I think there was a time when the Raw Night was compered alternately by Peter Kay and Johnny Vegas so you’d feel sorry for any poor sod that had to go on because clearly the punters were waiting for the compere to come back,” he chuckles.
Between The Frog and The Buzz, Kay gained more work and it was a rapid ascendancy from there to headlining gigs and getting his own show. As Janice Connolly, Phoenix Nights’ Holy Mary, notes: “He was wonderful, he made a steady rise and did brilliantly. Good business brain, good all rounder. I think he’s a brilliant actor too.”
Soon Kay began to draw the crowds in himself as Hadoke found when he booked him for his club. “We have a membership scheme and that was launched as a result of Peter. I don’t know if he’d done much telly by then either. Word had spread, I think, of how good he was. I think the charge was 50p at the time and the bill was Peter Kay, Kevin Gildea and Dom Carroll.
“There was this massive queue and I realised that a lot of regulars weren’t going to get in because loads of people had come from far afield because they’d seen Peter advertised, and I thought then that I needed to somehow prioritise and reward the people that come week in, week out.”
It wasn’t long before Kay got his first TV work, making early appearances on BBC North-produced The Sunday Show. He teamed up with co-writers Dave Spikey and Neil Fitzmaurice, displaying that quirkily parochial writing style that was to prove such a success later for the team in Phoenix Nights.
For the first full series of That Peter Kay Thing, Kay began to gather talent from the local scene asking the likes of Connolly on board, who had entered the City Life competition as her alter ego Barbara Nice.
“I got to the final and Peter was in the audience because he’d won it the year before,” says Connolly. “I came second and he rang me up about three days later and he said, ‘I saw you and thought you were smashing, do you want to be in my television programme?’.”
The stand-up Archie Kelly, who plays Kenny in Phoenix Nights, was also talent spotted by Kay. “I was doing that character Jackie ‘Mr Goodtime’ Valencio at the Frog & Bucket,” he recalls. Peter compered it and hadn’t seen me do anything before and he came up after I’d been on and said, ‘That’s the funniest thing I’ve seen for ages’. He told me he was doing this six part series, which turned out to be That Peter Kay Thing.” One episode of which was entitled The Club, which went on to the become Phoenix Nights…
And the rest? Well that, as they say, is history.
Peter Kay - MEN Arena, from April 27, 2010 - SOLD OUT.
Peter Kay's ready to stand up for his tour of laughter
26th April 2010
The Bolton News
STARTING tomorrow, Peter Kay is back on nights. The Bolton comedian begins a much-anticipated series of live shows, after a seven-year absence from performing stand-up, at the MEN Arena.
Considering he admits performing comedy live is his first love, it has been a long wait for his many fans. But Peter says that after the record-breaking 180-night tour which he embarked upon eight years ago, he wanted to be sure he was ready to perform a string of live shows once more. And now he is.
Speaking exclusively to The Bolton News on the eve of his Tour That Doesn’t Tour show, he said: “Being back on tour — or back on nights, as I prefer — is a huge challenge. But then again, stand-up by its very nature is challenging. The day you stop being nervous is the day you should give up. I’m very excited about performing again It has been seven years and not a day has gone by when I haven’t thought about going back. Now it has finally arrived.”
Since his last tour, Peter has collated reams of notes he felt may form the basis for new material. He said: “I’ve always written and still write things down all the time. The process of compiling notes and then having the courage to see if they actually really are funny is a tough ordeal. It doesn’t matter how successful you are, if something’s not funny people won’t laugh. There’s no grey area in comedy; it’s very black and white, funny or not.”
Peter played at the city’s Arena at the end of his last tour — a place he had worked as a steward not that long before. This time, all the venues will be larger, with a markedly different atmosphere than smaller theatres or comedy clubs.
Peter said: “Playing arenas is completely different to playing a comedy club or small venue, but at the same time the vastness adds a different atmosphere and excitement. That’s why stand-up comedy has successfully made the transition to arenas.
“Playing arenas means that the show has to fit the space, so I’ve enjoyed thinking about new ways to develop it and hopefully bring a better live experience for the audience, while at the same time keeping the stand-up fresh. I also wanted to schedule a tour that worked for me and performing it over a period of time hopefully means it retains the excitement of performing live.
“I’m actually playing to three times as many people as the last tour, but over a longer period of time this time. I was nervous about putting the first four nights on sale, now 85 have sold out! It’s impossible for me to comprehend that level of demand.”
Over the past few weeks, Peter has honed his material in a series of warm-up shows at The Met, in Bury. He is a perfectionist and has spent hours practising his routine. He said: “By the time the tour starts I’ll have performed more than 20 warm-up shows. It’s been very important getting back to the basics of stand-up. I had seven years to make up for. The thing that still astonishes me about stand-up is that no two nights are ever the same and at no point can you rest on your laurels. If you want it to work, you can’t give anything less than 110 per cent.”
And what can people expect in the new material? Will there be much talk about the comedian’s beloved home town of Bolton? “Bolton will always be integral to everything I do because it’s where I’ve always lived. But basically one thing I learned on the last tour is that funny is funny wherever you are from. People all over Britain have a great affection for Lancashire. I’ve spent the last seven years building up material, so, if anything, I’ve found I’ve had too much to talk about and so much to say. The problem is fitting it all in.”
The star of the BAFTA-winning Phoenix Nights, Max And Paddy’s Road To Nowhere and Britain’s Got The Pop Factor first broke on to the comedy scene in 1996 when he won North West Comedian of the Year. It is 10 years ago today, since he appealed in the pages of The Bolton News for people to suggest a venue where Phoenix Nights could be filmed. St Gregory’s, in Farnworth, was used as the Phoenix Club and fans still visit to see where the two series were filmed.
Peter has since won four British Comedy Awards, four Royal Television Society Awards, the coveted Rose D’Or at the International Television Festival and, most recently, a BAFTA Award for his 2009 TV special Britain’s Got The Pop Factor, which is also nominated for an International Emmy at next week’s ceremony in New York.
One of the UK’s most prolific stand-up comedians, his Mum Wants A Bungalow tour still holds the record as the biggest-selling British stand-up DVD and tour of all time. Peter’s self-penned autobiography, The Sound Of Laughter, sold more than one million copies in the first three months of release and now ranks as the biggest-selling British hardback autobiography. His follow-up, Saturday Night Peter, has been top of the bestsellers list since it was published in September.
It is hard to imagine that 12 years ago, Peter, now aged 36, was virtually unknown as a comedian. After all his success and the massive response for tickets from the public, how does he feel?
“I still feel like a chancer from Daubhill — I’m sure Paddy would agree — and, to be honest, I’m happy feeling like that. It keeps me grounded and able to cope with it all.”
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