Frank Skinner
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Joined: 25 Apr 2006

PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2008 1:41 pm    Post subject: Frank Skinner Reply with quote

Frank Skinner: interview
The drinking, the sobriety, the football, the chat show, the talking head: now Frank Skinner is back as a rejuvenated stand-up force, he tells Time Out
By Tim Arthur
Nov 17 2008

I met Frank Skinner for the first time at his ‘Press v Press World Series’ bowling competition, which had been organised as a semi-official launch for his new live DVD ‘Frank Skinner Stand-Up’. As far as I can recall it was great night. Twenty or so teams of media whores from various organisations were enticed to the evening with the promise of free food and more importantly, free alcohol. Which is a bit like waving a sausage in front of a ravenous dog.

I remember the evening starting harmlessly enough, passing good-natured pleasantries with Frank and the teams from Radio 1 and The Radio Times. Then it all becomes a bit of blur as the beer and my surprisingly competitive nature kicked in. I do remember moonwalking past Adrian Chiles and his ‘One Show’ team-mates firing my finger pistols at him and shouting, ‘Take that Giles! In your face. Striiiiiiiiiike-ka-ka-ka-ka!’ It was not my finest moment.

So it is, slightly shamefacedly, that I go along to chat with him a couple of days later about his return to stand-up after ten years and his new book ‘Frank Skinner on the Road’, and just hoped he wouldn’t mention the bowling incident.

Why go back to performing live?
‘I look back on it as a return to the source… that sounds like I’m drinking again! I used to look at myself as a stand-up who did a chat show or a stand-up who did whatever. Then I think I started to lose sight of that, because I hadn’t done it in so long. I did it on the chat show, but doing topical jokes, written with a team of writers, is as separate from real stand-up as doing a play. So my main motivation was to see if I could still do it. I really didn’t know if I could, you know, because things have changed. I got onto one of those lists of "the Top 100 Comics of All Time", and it described me as a “Comedian for the Loaded generation”. It drove me crazy thinking: Is that it? Is that all I am, part of that lads mags thing? Because if that’s true then I’m in trouble because that’s all gone now. People want the whole “Gavin and Stacey” thing: well acted, well observed, gentle, no-jokes-please-we’re-modern-type of new comedy and that’s not me at all, really.’

So when did you realise you could still cut it?
‘It was probably one night at “Fat Tuesday” in Islington when I was trying out some material before the tour. I was booked for ten minutes and ended up doing around 25. It was one of those nights when I felt full-up with funny things. I’d written a routine for that night, but I ended up doing loads of new stuff, which ended up in the show. There’d been times before where I’d thought: Yeah this is great. But that night I kept thinking: No this is what it’s about. I’ve fucking forgotten it could be this good.

'There was this guy in the audience laughing, and I felt like saying, “Mate, you think it’s good from there, you should come up and see the view from here!” The audience obviously knew it was going well, but I don’t think they knew what it meant to me. People think it’s the big stadium gigs that are your favourites but often it’s just one of those small venues. One of those nights where you feel touched by the comedy gods. The funny thing is someone who was at that gig will probably read this and think, “Well, it was all right, but it wasn’t that special. I’d have thought you could have done better Frank.” ’

Your autobiography was a huge bestseller, did you learn a lot about yourself whilst writing it?
‘Yeah, it was very good for me. It began as just a series of anecdotes, not a “body of work” if you like. But when I started reading them, I could recognise the behaviourial traits I have now. Like that “give me a seven-year-old child and I’ll give you a man” – not as popular a slogan as it used to be, for various reasons. Anyway, it made me realise that quite early on you’re finished, as far as your basic personality. I spent so many years on the verge of a new regime. You know: Tomorrow, I’ll go to the gym. Tomorrow, I’ll stop having premarital sex. It was always something tomorrow. And then I realised: this is what I’m like, I should embrace what I am, and stop making all these false promises.’

What’s next? A novel?
‘I wrote 60,000 words of one then stopped. To bring out a novel that doesn’t do well is one thing but not to have finished one... I might have another go. I like writing prose and not having to justify everything with a laugh. Stand-up is like walking down a road at night. If a joke fails it’s like walking into a spot where a lamppost has gone out. You don’t want two or three lights in
a row to be like that, because that would be a fucking dark road, you could get terribly lost and never come out the other end. But with a book, you can relax and concentrate on telling a story and not be a slave to the jokes.’

What kind of books do you like reading?
‘Weird stuff. Like Jean Cocteau’s “The Miscreant”, this sounds like “Late Review”, but I really enjoy the way he’s very sparse but also poetic. And I just read Herman Hesse’s “Narcissus and Goldmund” which was brilliant.’

And will you continue doing stand-up?
‘Definitely. Luckily I think there’s enough Luddites and joke enthusiasts left to keep me going.’

As I leave, Hello magazine moves in to ask him some in-depth questions about his favourite cocktail. ‘Well, it’ll be a virgin one, obviously, because I don’t drink. By the way, Tim, that reminds me, glad you enjoyed the bowling.’

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2008 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Frank Skinner in line for a coveted Broad Street star
Nov 22 2008
William Oliphant,
Birmingham Mail

FRANK Skinner could be the next person to grace the Walk of Stars despite his fears he would be snubbed for a position on Birmingham’s Broad Street. The Oldbury-born chat show host, comedian and star of Fantasy Football League (pictured) said he would be proud to grace the street during an unaired portion of an interview on Heart FM. But he said he thought he didn’t qualified to be on the prestigeous walk because he wasn’t born in Birmingham.

“I’m not from Birmingham I think is the problem,” he said. “I think they’re quite strict on that, because I’d quite like to be on the Walk of Stars. Who wouldn’t.” However when the Three Lions star found out that Noddy Holder was already gracing the heart of Birmingham’s nightlife he joked that he was outraged because the glam rocker is in fact from Wolverhampton. “Well if Noddy Holder’s already on there I’m going to be outraged ‘cos he’s from Wolverhampton,” he said. “They’ve obviously lied to me. They just don’t want me on. They’ve come up with some trumped up reason.” He added: “Is UB40 on there?”

But Broad Street bigwigs denied the snub and said they would be proud to have Frank Skinner on the walk and just had not yet been able to get in touch with him. Allan Sartori, owner of the Rocket Club and a member of the Broad Street Business Improvement District panel, which picks people to be on the Walk of Stars, said: “He’s a very popular figure in Birmingham and he’s someone that keeps coming up as a potential figure for the walk of stars. We’d be happy to have him on the walk and a letter has now been sent out offering him a position. All indications are that he would be pleased to take up the offer.”


I wondered how many stars are actually on this street - this site is dedicated to it...
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 12:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My Life In Travel: Frank Skinner
'In Tokyo, I had to lick the water off before she understood me'
Interview by Sophie Lam
29 November 2008 Web

First holiday memory?
As a child, I only remember two family holidays that were longer than day trips to Weston-super-Mare and Rhyl. Once we stopped off in the car and I saw some sand and charged straight in; it turned out to be a motorway service station with some building works. The two holidays I remember were to Bewdley and Highley. It wasn't until 15 years later when I started driving that I realised they were 15 miles apart.

Best holiday?
A ranching holiday in Montana, which was great because it's one of very few situations when you can legitimately wear a cowboy outfit. You need to wear cowboy boots for the stirrups and Wrangler jeans, because they don't have an inner double seam and therefore don't rub when you're riding. We had a cowboy fondue, which was basically a steak on a pitch fork that you dip in a vat. I lived in a log cabin and it was absolutely brilliant.

Favourite place in the British Isles?
The Lake District. My girlfriend and I watched a documentary about Wainwright, went on the internet and then booked a walking holiday there. There aren't any signposts, so I got lost and I rather liked that. It feels like they deliberately made it un-user-friendly. You can see why people wrote fantastic poetry there. We also did half of the Coast-to-Coast walk, which goes from St Bees on the west coast, across the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales, to the east coast. We hadn't done much walking before and I wore some red boots from the 1980s. I learnt how to burst a blister with a needle and cotton and started saying hello to everyone I saw when I got back to London. I loved being able to go to the loo whenever I liked.

Ideal travelling companion?
Not counting my girlfriend, I like being with people who know places really well. I'd love to do Paris with someone like Serge Gainsbourg, but I probably would have died from heavy drinking after about three days.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
I can't swim and I'm scared of water, which is a big holiday setback. Beach holidays aren't good. I went to Grenada once and there was nothing for me to do. I like cities and I'm a slightly obsessive sightseer. My girlfriend and I take it in turns to set the itinerary, so there's a competitive edge. We went to Paris last year and tried to outdo each other so we ended up seeing all sorts of things – it was very motivational.

Greatest travel luxury?
I do like fancy hotels. There's a place called La Colombe d'Or in St-Paul de Vence on the Côte d'Azur, where artists used to pay their keep with paintings – you can sit in the dining room under a Picasso or a Matisse.

Holiday reading?
I like reading if I'm somewhere warm with a hammock. I'll start two or three books before I go, to see if I am going to like them. I'm hoping that the rise of the e-book will mean you can travel with an entire library.

Where has seduced you?
Tokyo. It is enormous and I had a sense I was skating round on the surface, but I caught glimpses of a secret world underneath. There were virtually no signs in English, which was slightly scary but I've never felt more overseas. I remember miming that I wanted a glass of water in a restaurant. The waitress came back with a damp cloth to wipe myself with – I had to squeeze the water into my palm and lick the water off before she understood me.

Better to travel or arrive?
I hate flying. I used to be very nervous about it but I've got better as I've got richer, because it's less scary in business class when you're surrounded by wealthy people. I absolutely love train travel. I was in Austria and Switzerland during the World Cup and did a lot of rail travel, which was great because you get to see scenery, eat food and meet people in a cosy environment.

Worst travel experience?
A long weekend in Frankfurt, which is an industrial German town. Until you've had a long weekend in Frankfurt you don't know what a long weekend really is. I went sightseeing where there were no sights and visited museums that commemorated people I'd never heard of.

Worst holiday?
Grenada, because I was there in the middle of a tempestuous relationship and felt imprisoned on an island with someone I had come to loathe, with nothing to do. We were there for New Year and just as people started the countdown we began a row: "Auld Lang Syne" had real malice in it. We had another row a few hours later and she ran off into the jungle. I enquired about flying home early.

Worst hotel?
The Ibis next to Euston station. The room looked like it had been greased prior to my arrival. I don't know if there had been a group of Teddy boys there just before me. I also stayed at a place somewhere in the south west of England and as the girl took me up to my room she said "ooh, you've got the haunted room"; I spent the whole night listening to every creak, it was awful.

Best hotel?
Tsala Treetop Lodge in South Africa, which is on the Garden Route. My room was literally a tree house and I remember having a shower outside, listening to birds and monkeys chattering. I also like modern hotels like the Hi Hotel in Nice. I like gimmicky hotels where there's at least one thing in the room I'd want in my house.

Favourite walk/swim/ride/drive?
I once went to see Venezia Football Club play at home. In the UK they put football grounds in the most horrible locations, but in Venice it was the most beautiful walk to a football ground I've ever done in my life. The canals gave way to a very green and spacious walk and when I finally got there, the fans were the scariest I've ever seen in my life. There were 30ft perimeter fences that the supporters would try to climb and when police tried to pull them down they'd kick them in the face. It was also ladies day: women could get in half price.

Best meal abroad?
They do a large salad with things like chicory and hard boiled eggs at the Colombe d'Or, which is just fabulous. It arrives on about 15 trays and it feels so healthy and lovely and French. All the vegetables taste how you imagine they used to taste in the old days. In England, tomatoes taste like round pieces of tap water.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?
I virtually always don't like the place I've arrived at on the first day of a holiday or work trip; I usually wish I hadn't come. It's not until the next morning when I go out that I decide that I like it and then decide I want to move there. I have to write off the first day of my holiday.

Dream trip?
I'd love to go to China. A previous editor of The Times told me if I don't go in the next few years, the China that is there now won't exist anymore. It's like a holiday clock and it scares me. Similarly, I'd love to visit Cuba, before Fidel Castro goes.

Favourite city?
New York. I was there recently and just wandered around on my own, which was blissful. I went to the New York Library which is really beautiful, then I'd go and buy some soup and eat it in Central Park.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 06, 2008 12:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

With the help of Eric Clapton, Frank Skinner has been off the booze for 20 years. So why does he still yearn for a cosy pint?
By Diana Appleyard
6th December 2008

Frank Skinner, 51, lives in London with his girlfriend, Catherine. He has just completed a sellout tour of the UK, and the DVD of his stand-up routine is out now, along with a new book, Frank Skinner On The Road.

Would you like a new TV show?
I'd like to take on a big project, but I don't feel it has to be TV. I'd rather have a programme on Radio 4 than take part in Celebrity Shark Cage or whatever. I've been asked onto all the big reality shows - I'm A Celebrity, Strictly Come Dancing etc - but to be honest I think it's Jobcentre With Sequins. I'm quite happy with my career, even though I haven't been on TV for a while. At the moment there's nothing in my diary from the 1st of January, and I actually find that exciting - with a sprinkling of terror.

Would you like to revive your chat show?
On The Frank Skinner Show I interviewed most of the big 'celebs', and the people I'd like to interview now may not be right for a primetime slot. Like the Pope. Or Fay Weldon - I met her the other day, and she was fascinating. But somehow writers aren't seen as 'sexy' enough.

Were you thrilled with the success of your stand-up tour?
I was thrilled that people turned up. The fact that they all seemed to laugh was a huge bonus. When I was planning the tour, I said to my manager, 'Let's do 30 dates with around 400-seaters.'

I hadn't been on the telly for a while, and I honestly wondered if people would come. He seemed to be agreeing with me, and then went off and booked 69 venues, some of which were 3,000 to 5,000-seaters. But, as a Brummie, the gig that meant the most to me was one I did in a Birmingham pub where I used to do standup. I walked on stage and there was this huge roar - I got a real lump in my throat. Thank goodness my voice didn't come out as a squeak as they'd think I was going soft.

Do you memorise your routine?
Every night is slightly different, but I have the same body of material. It may look casual, but I am a perfectionist. I craft and hone each joke, and take note of what gets the biggest laugh. I work on my show in 15-minute segments, then put it all together. By then I'm very familiar with all the material, and, if I deviate on stage, say if I'm talking to a member of the audience, there's a little man in my brain sorting through the files to find my place.

I've become very good at mentally bookmarking where I left off. Most comedians have a brilliant memory. Never play a trivia quiz with comedians - which I have. You'll be there all night. Very occasionally I'll have a memory lapse, so I keep a running list in my back pocket, which I then pull out, in a jocular fashion. But if that happens, then inside I feel like I've failed.

Does your act change as you get older?
My material is all taken from my life. My early years working in a factory are a rich source of material, but I'm now adapting my routine to getting older. For example, I recently fell over, and I got three phone calls from friends asking if I was all right. One then referred to me having 'one of my falls', as if I do it all the time. Nor can I use the groupie gags much, now that I'm in a 'proper, grown-up' relationship.

Are you naturally cheerful?
I am. I'm full of bounce. At least once an hour I get an urge to jump up and down with sheer excitement. My girlfriend, who used to be a clinical psychologist, says I have very high levels of serotonin. She says people pay good money to get as high as I am, naturally. Even when I was working in dead-jobs and was an alcoholic, I was very cheerful.

You once described Eric Clapton as your 'alcohol guardian angel...'
Eric's a good friend and he's helped me a lot. He's been through the AA programme and said I should try it, as I was an alcoholic. I still dream that I drink. Not in a drunk, out-of-control way, but just sitting in a pub and chatting. I do miss it. Parties are OK without drink, though. I saw in the Millennium with Eric, and we sat, him playing the guitar and me singing, as the fireworks went off. We were stone-cold sober.

How did you go from someone who left school with two O-levels to having a Master's degree in Literature?
I got kicked out of school at 16 for 'embezzling the school meal's service'. In other words, I was flogging off lunch tickets I found in a bin. I didn't care, as school didn't mean much to me. At primary school, the teachers said I should take the 11-plus and go to the local grammar school, but I didn't want to because that was where all the posh kids went, and I wanted to stay with my mates. I only passed Art and English Language, as you didn't have to revise.

I was in a band, and just assumed I'd become a pop star. Then I realised I had to change my life, which was going nowhere, so I went back to college, slogged through O- and A-levels and then read English at Warwick University. I loved it. I might go back to university. I think it's a kind of intelligent mid-life crisis.

Do you feel mature enough to have a child?
Do you have to be mature to have a child? I hope not. I'm in a 'solid' relationship now and would like to have children, but I still don't think I've grown up. I've just got the hang of speaking to kids - they used to frighten me. David Baddiel [his former comic partner] has let me practice on his kids, and they seem to like me, and laugh at my jokes. That makes me very proud - a child's approval is unadulterated.

What do you spend your money on?
Not a lot, to be honest. My accountant says I'm the least high-spending famous person he's met. I have a nice flat in London, but I drive a seven-year-old BMW and my friends say, 'What on Earth are you doing with that thing?' My reply is, 'It works.'

I like being able to go off to events when I want to, like going to New York for the weekend just to watch baseball, or flying to Milan to see Kraftwerk play in a ruined villa. I enjoy posh hotels, but I like walking holidays at the moment, and they're really cheap. I just don't see the point of buying things I don't want or need. Maybe I should buy a trout farm or something, but I don't have the urge. I'm relatively careful with money - I'll be okay financially for a few years to come.

Do you like being famous?
Of course. Being a celebrity is great - it's a lot easier than working in a factory, and I've done both. Everyone is loathe to say, 'My life is fabulous', but I'm pretty happy with mine. I like signing autographs and chatting to people. David Baddiel says he can't believe how I chat to everyone, from the checkout girl at the supermarket to a celebrity - I hope I'm always the same. But then I chatted to everyone before I was famous, too. I like people.

Are you fearful of not being famous?
No. I'm not as famous as I was a few years ago, when I was really flavour of the month. It diminishes, and then it might come back. I survived for 35 years without being famous. I don't have extravagant tastes, so I'd be fine. I enjoy life. I'm interested in lots of things, like art and literature. I'm never bored.

Do you feel middle-class?
No, I still feel working-class, and people know I'm working-class because of my accent. When I was writing my autobiography a few years ago, I was accused by my then girlfriend of being 'chippy'. I don't think that's strictly fair, but your awareness of class never leaves you.


Quite a bland interview from the Daily Mail (surprise surprise!), but I had to note this one line - "I just don't see the point of buying things I don't want or need" - wise words there Frank!
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2008 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 7:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Comedianist prejudice is getting serious
Comics keep cropping up on Question Time, but do news presenters ever do stand-up tours?
Frank Skinner
January 23, 2009

So I've got a column in The Times, I'm discussing new films and novels on BBC Two's Newsnight Review tonight and, on Monday, I'm presenting Panorama. I seem to have become a one-man dumbing-down operation.

Understandably, this has wound some people up. Janet Street-Porter, whom I must say I've always liked, suggested in her newspaper column that employing me as a presenter proved that Panorama was no longer a “heavyweight programme”. It seems the Government's call for more liberal attitudes towards social mobility is falling on deaf ears. If the show was about Gaza or the social services, I'd see Janet's point, but as it is instead about swearing and bad taste on television, getting me in has the same logic as getting Sue Barker in to do the tennis. I've been swearing and making off-colour remarks on television since 1988. I'm calling that credentials.

I remember the same dumbing-down accusations when Jo Brand first did Question Time. I think this is just comedianism. Serious TV presenters are saying stuff like: “These comedians, coming over here, taking our jobs.” And then there's the prevalence of comedianist language. What does it say about a society when words like “comedian”, “joker” and “clown” are used as insults?

There is definitely a strong feeling that comics should stick to comedy. I honestly sympathise with that. A comedian who wants to be taken seriously is like a politician who wants to show us their human side, best viewed with mistrust. But I don't want to be taken seriously; it's just that occasionally doing serious stuff makes a nice change. And the truth is, it's much easier than doing comedy. I know I set myself up for a fall by saying that but it's a fact.

Over the past few weeks, I've interviewed several people for Panorama. Obviously, you have to read up on them and have a sense of where you want the interview to go, but it's a walk in the park compared with the comedy interviews I did when I had a chat show. A serious interview is just asking questions. It's like helping someone to fill in a form. Then you get what's known as the hard-hitting interview. It's still just asking questions except you ask some of them three or four times.

A comedy interview, such as you'll see on tonight's Jonathan Ross show, is genuine multitasking - like doing an interview and a stand-up act at the same time. Questions are only part of the equation. You have to lead the interviewee towards the clip of them falling over in a charity football match or that paparazzi shot of them snogging someone from Girls Aloud and then look genuinely concerned as they talk about their alcoholism while you're trying to decide exactly the right time to whip out the drunkard's liver prop. It's complicated.

Maybe that's why the serious lot get angry when comedians have a crack at their job - they don't want them to find out how much easier it is than comedy. It must have struck you that comics keep cropping up on Newsnight or Question Time but serious presenters never seem to do stand-up tours.

Of course, if I do fall flat on my face on Panorama, it will at least prove that the programme is still heavyweight and thus an unsuitable vehicle for a gimmick presenter. So that'll be nice. Tonight's Newsnight Review, which, of course, I'm only doing because David Baddiel wasn't available, is on at the same time as Jonathan Ross's returning chat show so if I'm rubbish on that, at least there won't be too many witnesses.

It seems the storm over Manuel-gate, or Sachs-a-phone as I like to call it, has subsided, the sun is shining and it's safe for everyone to come out into the open again. I saw Russell Brand's new stand-up show in Reading on Monday. There's been much talk of how he deals extensively and enthusiastically with the recent furore but I was more taken aback by his outfit. The last time I saw him live, he looked like a gunslinger, all belt-buckle and cowboy boots. On Sunday he wore leggings and a little black dress. Combined with his lustrous black hair and wispy beard, when he first walked out I thought it was Ruth from The X Factor. I suppose if you have sex as often as Russell Brand does, buckles and buttons become a time-consuming annoyance. With leggings and a mini-dress there's only a little bit of elastication between you and instant pleasure.

I know everyone's expecting Ross's return to be less confrontational than Brand's but wouldn't it be strangely wonderful if Ross came back, instead, with all guns blazing? Imagine the spine-tingling exhilaration if he made the same lewd suggestion to Tom Cruise as he said to Gwyneth Paltrow, especially if Tom, caught momentarily off-guard, responded in the affirmative. It would be the perfect chat show moment - a big laugh followed by a major exclusive.

In fact, the story would be so big, it would surely only be a matter of weeks before Michael Sheen was on the set of the new film, Ross/Cruise, doing his best Jonathan Ross impression and re-creating the interview with Verne Troyer in a Tom Cruise wig. Perhaps when that film outdid Frost/Nixon in box-office takings, comedy interviewing, and indeed comedy in general, would at last be recognised as the superior genre.

Frank Skinner presents Panorama on BBC One at 8.30pm, Monday January 26


ooooh, swearing!
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2009 12:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Frank Skinner is tack-sharp and topical
Bruce Dessau

Frank Skinner might not have a regular television series at the moment, but he is certainly keeping himself busy. Having recently presented an edition of Panorama on the thorny issue of swearing, he has now launched this club promising high-quality acts in a West End theatre at a rock bottom £10 price. An ambitious enterprise and the opening night did not disappoint.

Skinner was in his element as compere, tack-sharp and topical: “We’ve got a competition with a prize. The Chelsea job.” His cheeky-chappie personality ought to feel old hat yet somehow Skinner’s splendidly smutty innuendo, corny asides and even his George Formbyesque songs felt strangely timeless. Telly’s loss is the stage’s gain.

The Black Country clown certainly assembled a strong bill. If Newcomer Tom Deacon was derivative, evoking the studentish ebullience of Russells Kane and Howard, he still revealed promise but could never compete with the next act. Michael McIntyre unexpectedly nipped in, wowed the crowd with his riffs on Obama, parenthood and the perils of modern postage and nipped out. No comedian could follow that. Luckily Connie Fisher was present, belting out a heady mix of showstoppers.

After the interval Anna Crilly and Katy Wix hit the night’s only flat note. In time this sketch duo might be a female Vic and Bob but here their elliptical advert send-ups bemused an audience wanting no-frills nonsense.

Fortunately the closing act provided chuckles by the barrel-load. Whenever it seems that Al Murray’s Pub Landlord cannot get more monstrous he does just that. His head-to-head haranguing of a banker in the stalls was simultaneously terrifying and hilarious.

Skinner deserves a financier-sized bonus for his efforts, even if the concept is not entirely selfless. Major acts get to roadtest new material — Murray, for instance, is about to start a UK tour — minor acts get a taste of the big stage. But one would have to be clinically depressed not to enjoy an evening like this.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2009 11:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It’s Absolutely Frank Skinner
Mar 09, 2009

Frank Skinner is to join Absolute Radio to present a Saturday morning breakfast show. The stand-up comic and former chat-show host will join the station for three months.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2009 1:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

scroll down to listen to Monday's show
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 3:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's Frank on Room 101, first broadcast in August 1993.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 02, 2009 1:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Frank Skinner is back doing cabaret again
The comic is back on the road after 10 years joking about giving up vices, and losing half his savings in collapse of AIG
Camilla Long
August 2nd 2009

‘Physically,” says Frank Skinner, the comedian, edging slightly nearer on the plastic black sofa in his management’s office, eyes boggling out of his Casper the Friendly Ghost face, “I am not a very attractive man. Before I became famous I struggled to get women. Suddenly that changed and I got very . . . excited. I was a kid in a toy shop. I . . .” I know, I know, I say, you famously ripped through hundreds of groupies.

“Well,” he says, his slaloming Brummie accent slowing, “not ripped, quite, but . . . My routines are all about my insecurities. I’ve had one three-in-a-bed in my life and I spent the whole thing feeling terribly self-conscious.” He sighs. “What were they whispering?”

Skinner need worry no longer, of course. The insecurities may remain — “I am a weirdo loner” — but threesomes are now strictly a thing of the past. The former “millionaire shagging machine” has hung up his, well, I don’t know what, but he hasn’t slept with a groupie “in the 21st century”, he says, with a hint of regretful incredulity. Now, “I do sex, but only with one person”. He pauses. “Okay, if I see a woman in a short skirt in the street . . .”

So when he went on the road again 18 months ago, for the first time in 10 years, his act, which had in the past relied heavily on smut, needed to change too. His latest show, Frank Skinner’s Credit Crunch Cabaret, which transfers to Edinburgh next week, is a genteel ensemble performance in which the most controversial thing the banjo-toting stand-up does is to mock his own fading celebrity and recently diminished means (more of which later).

A gingerly confident man with an oversized head, Skinner cuts a trim figure in a slim charcoal suit, his grey coiff gently crisping with product, incongruous suede loafers the colour of wet cardboard on his feet. At 52 he looks more like “Tintin’s dad” — his choice of words — than the egg-white Jack the Lad he was back in the 1990s, when he and comedy partner David Baddiel routinely sold out stadiums. He has given up “almost everything” now, “drugs, alcohol, smoking . . .” He shakes his head: “I even gave up caffeine for a couple of months.” For a time swearing was out, too, but if this interview is anything to go by, that was only a temporary measure.

Instead he has embraced — pause for comic effect — yoga (“Although I am the least flexible person in the world. I do yoga like the Tin Man”), meditation and monogamy with Cath, his girlfriend of eight years. They set up house 18 months ago after a “very rocky” early period that saw them splitting up “at least 15 times”.

Despite his gently bemused mien, you get the impression that he could be a bit of a starter behind closed doors. I tell him I reckon he’d make a great dad. “Do you think?” he says, genuinely surprised. “Even though I’m 52? I suppose I’d have the fun bits, play in the Wendy house and then as soon as they become emos, I’ll die.”

Or they can have you put to sleep, I say. “Yeah,” he laughs. “You’ll be able to get that on the NHS by then. I’m just going to the doctor’s; ‘I’d quite like to die, please, can you do Tuesday morning?’”

He has been married before and while he doesn’t rule it out again, he doesn’t particularly rule it in, either. The fact that “from the day I handed over the keys it’s been bliss”, seems enough for him and Cath. And for everyone else: “No one wants to hear about others’ happy relationships. Even now I sense you’re getting bored.”

Ah, but things never stay still for long. Twelve months ago Skinner faced ruin as a victim of the credit crunch. “I’m with Coutts, the Queen’s bank,” he explains. “I thought I’d arrived: the Queen’s bank! I couldn’t go wrong. But my life savings were in an American company called AIG. I tried for about three weeks to get my bank manager on the phone. When I got hold of him, I said, ‘I think I should take my money out of AIG’. He said, ‘Yeah, a lot of people are saying that. Well, you can’t’.”

Skinner’s assets had been frozen. “For three weeks I thought I’d lost the lot. Me and my girlfriend were having conversations about where we would live and stuff, like a 1960s black-and-white film: I can still work. We’ll be okay. We don’t need a flat this big. We like walking holidays! I can do the clubs again.”

In the event he got half his money back — he doesn’t say how much — but the other half is frozen until 2012, at which point “they’re ‘fairly sure’ I’ll get it back”, he says, with a note of sarcasm. “Fairly sure is not a phrase I want to hear. So I’m still in that position. I don’t know where my savings are; I believe in a company called Alico, which I hadn’t even heard of. It could be a tin mine in South Africa.”

He has since lent support to a campaign started by Sir Keith Mills to sue the bank in which the Air Miles entrepreneur had invested £65m of his fortune, although Skinner grins impishly: “Can you sue the Queen’s bank? I don’t want to die in a Parisian subway in mysterious circumstances.” Regardless, he has visited the campaign’s website, given his details for the petition and is ready to sue when the time comes.

“There were people treated worse than me, phoning up a year before saying, ‘I heard a whisper about AIG’, and them saying, ‘No, it’s fine, everything’s okay’. I didn’t know until the horse had bolted. If the case continues I’ll certainly go with it. Not often I get to be the small man. I’m rather looking forward to my day in court. I’m seeing myself a bit like Marlene Dietrich, with a veil and a hat . . .”

These financial woes may be behind his new-found doubts about his life-long support of Labour, too. He once said, “Jesus would vote Labour”, but now it seems he is undecided. “I started to think about the pluses, that I probably wouldn’t be paying as much tax, would keep me a rich person, keep me somewhere I could avoid the grimmer sides of life,” he says. “And yes, that appeals to me, although I don’t like the part of me that appeals to.”

Not that he trusts David Cameron: “He’s a Photofit of what he thinks the public want. I don’t believe in it. I don’t believe in that posh person on a bike.” As for Gordon Brown, “I believe that’s what he is. It’s just that what he is doesn’t make a good leader. I know he’s been swayed by advice: wear a light-coloured coat, smile more.

“Part of me respects that he doesn’t know when to smile more. If you look where the smiles come, they have no bearing on what he’s just said or what the subject is. It’s like there’s a light behind the interviewer. He says, ‘Well, you know, the recession is very . . .’” Skinner gurns. “I love the fact he is so clumsy: it suggests to me he hasn’t spent a lot of time worrying about what his image is. Unfortunately, I don’t think you can be a prime minister like that now.”

Renouncing his support of the party would constitute a huge step for the comedian, who grew up in straitened circumstances in Oldbury, Birmingham, the son of a semi-professional footballer. He is still very aware of his roots and owes his lifelong fear of debt to the spectre of Mr Butler, a moneylender who would visit the family every week when he was a child.

Recently, too, he has become bothered by his posture, attributing his round shoulders to being “a loser most of my life; that man in the dole queue in 1929. The depression-era slouch. I move like a loser, even though I’m a millionaire. I think that’s what stops you becoming middle class”. As a result he would probably send his own kids to private school, he says, although “I don’t want them to be ashamed of me because I’m old and working class”.

His dissolute youth — “I used to like vandalism. Loved it. The sheer . . . bliss of taking out a bus stop with a piece of concrete. Now when I do it, the police car screams up and I just say, ‘Invoice me’” — was superseded by a halting academic career: before comedy claimed him, he was an English lecturer at Halesowen college in Dudley, in the West Midlands.

In some ways he remains that frustrated academic, cutting a slightly Dickensian figure on his regular visits to graves, monuments and art galleries; he also reads voraciously and quotes Shakespeare with ease. This erudition means he gets away with a lot more than he should, such as the time when he said all single women over 30 were “as rough as old arseholes”.

“I was trying to justify going out with,” he says, in a half-hearted attempt to get off the hook. “It’s just a fact that most people over that age are taken.”

Still, ageing preoccupies him, too. When he turned 50 he got a gold tooth, which promptly fell out: “The dentist said, ‘Do you want the gold tooth back in, or a green one to go with the rest?’” He worries about his looks: “I always said that when I got to 50, I’d retire from TV because the human face in close-up at 50 is not a very pleasant thing.” Mind you, the work is unlikely to dry up soon. “I’ve been asked to do all of those reality shows,” he says, “from the first Big Brother to Celebrity Shark Bait.” He laughs: “When you say yes to that, you really want to be on telly.”

Where now? He has given everything up. Would he ever snap, go back to the bottle? He hasn’t drunk “since September 24, 1986”, he says. “Not even a shandy.” A sherry trifle? “No. I wouldn’t have a tiramisu, either.” Sometimes, however, he drives past wasteland and looks fondly at the bearded winos drinking fortified wine. “They’re kind of heroic: a fabulous alternative society. It looks like quite a nice life, being drunk, not having to go to work.”

He smiles: “It would be great to end up on a wasteland and, when asked about it, say it was the tiramisu.”

The paperback of Frank Skinner on the Road is released on Thursday, priced £7.99. The Credit Crunch Cabaret will transfer to Edinburgh for a run at the Fringe Festival before returning to London’s West End in October

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 8:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Franks new show on Saturday mornings on Absolute is pretty good - well the podcast is anyway, I'm never actually up in time for it.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2009 2:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I lost my life savings after investing in AIG
4th September 2009

A couple of years ago I invested my entire life savings with Coutts. I felt like I'd joined an elite club, because I was with the Queen's bankers and therefore my money would be safe. I told them I wasn't a risk-taker and didn't want to accumulate any more money, but just wanted to make sure that what I had was safe. They advised me to invest it all in one American company, AIG. I was very nervous about putting all my eggs in one basket so I asked them what the worst-case scenario would be if it all went wrong.

My personal banker told me that at the very worst I could lose ten per cent, but that there was no way that would actually happen. So when I read in the papers that AIG was in trouble I tried to contact my bank. I phoned and e-mailed them but it took them three weeks to get back to me, and when they did they told me the company's assets had been frozen.

I said I wanted my money back, but they told me that was impossible and I really lost my rag. I wrote a letter of complaint to the bank, but they just wrote back saying, 'These are unusual circumstances. It's not our fault.'

I couldn't believe it. In the past, whenever I've read about people losing a load of money, I would think it served them right for being greedy and that they'd got their comeuppance. But I wasn't being greedy. I just wanted to protect what I had earned. I told them that I wanted to take all my money out, and they said that if I did, then I probably wouldn't get very much – but they couldn't tell me exactly how much. I did have a few sleepless nights about it, thinking I would have to sell my flat.

But, at the end of the day, I wasn't as upset as I should have been. I've known hard times and I definitely prefer being richer to poorer, but at least I can still work. As it turned out, I got half my money back but the rest is frozen until 2012, and even then there is no guarantee that I will get it.

I really don't like the idea of somebody telling me I can't have my money for another three years and then maybe not at all. I wish I'd put the whole lot in a box with a heavy lock on it. The money I have got back, I've put into National Savings. I probably won't get any interest on it but I don't care. And if I do lose the rest of my life's savings, then I'll just sell all my possessions. If you see a big rush of Frank Skinner memorabilia on eBay, you'll know why!


So that explains the many media appearances lately!

Also, who invests in an American bank if they're not interested in making a profit? He's talking out his arse.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2009 7:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's Frank being interviewed by Dave Gorman on 'Chain Reaction'.
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