MY BIOGRAPHY

I am yet another Anglo/Irish south London ex-plumber who came into comedy via a career in Human Resources.

I had the usual childhood, poor but happy, space-hoppers, flared trousers, good education accompanied by random violence at a Catholic Grammar School etc

Then after a short spell as a Fire Brigade clerk, followed by a shorter spell as a plumber, I went to Reading University to study archaeology, but was required to leave after one term because I fell in love and lost my trowel.

That was followed by 7 years in the Personnel Department of the London Ambulance Service, where I rose to the quite dizzy heights of Principal Administrative Assistant specialising in recruitment and industrial relations (I had staff and everything and one of the Union Convenors I had to deal with was one Jeremy Corbyn).

It was during that time I was dared into doing my first ever open-spot at the old Meccano Club in Camden. I was dared into it because a gang of us would go the Banana Cabaret in Balham every week and I was particularly scathing about paying money to not laugh at middle class comedians talking about the squat they had once visited. My friends thought an open spot would shut me up. It didn’t.

It went well enough to be asked back to do another open spot and then another and suddenly I was really enjoying the attention.

“I am now back standing up as much as ever before with recent gigs in 2016 including me becoming the first ever comedian to play at a show in the Tower of London.”

However it genuinely didn’t occur to me that a working class lad with no drama school experience could actually do comedy for a living. Then I met the wonderful Bob Boyton, comedian and bi-sexual Trotskyist care worker, who convinced me I was wrong. By the way, the chip on my shoulder is much smaller now but still occasionally pops up to say hello.

That was in 1986. In 1988 I had left the LAS and was performing comedy full time and by 1989 Time Out was describing Mark Thomas and I as “the third wave of alternative comedy”. By 1990 I was compering the Comedy Store every other weekend.

Mark Thomas and I started the circuit within two weeks of each other and went on to devise and perform the award winning ‘Loose Talk’ for Radio 1 (produced by Armando Ianucci) as well as performing a sell out tour together and being founder members of country’s first ever weekly live topical show ‘The Cutting Edge’ at The Comedy Store. “Best of all were two cheeky faced scene stealers” The Times… ”Day looks meek but don’t be fooled, his comedy is stern and searching stuff” Time Out.

I think I’m a good comedian, but for me Mark Thomas is the best this country has produced in recent years, so it was wonderful that he and I had our first big TV exposure together in 1993, when we became the regular comedians and writers for Channel 4’s ill fated but brilliant live show ‘Saturday Zoo’ hosted by Jonathan Ross. An experience that saw me write sketches for Christopher Walken & Steve Coogan and appear live with a pantomine horse that had forgotten to put its horse costume on. It was also an experience that left me needing a long lie down.

After establishing myself on the circuit and around the country (and becoming the first ever British stand-up to perform at a comedy show in Mumbai in 1989) it was time for Edinburgh.

My first ever fringe experience was being the support act in a gymnasium for a Danish lesbian comedy act, who left after two nights because one them got pregnant. It was the perfect introduction to a festival I absolutely adore.

I did a couple of shared shows with people like Nick Hancock, Michael Redmond, Jo Brand and John Moloney and then between 1991 and 1996 did six full length solo shows. “Give thanks for his continued excellence” The Scotsman ***** 1994

One in particularly got a lot of attention: ‘I Was A Teenage Racist’ was my show at the Assembly Rooms in 1993 and I’m still being asked about it now. It won me the Time Out Comedy Award that year, although I’m just as proud of an article in the Scotsman the following year asking why I hadn’t been nominated for a Perrier Award for any of my Edinburgh shows (I occasionally wake up asking myself the same question).

Then, for very many reasons I didn’t take another full length show to Edinburgh until 2014 when I returned with ‘Standy-Uppy’ and then ‘Hairline’, both of which were really well received.

“If you’ve laughed at something on TV lately, 
chances are Kevin wrote it”

CLARE BALDING

“This is first class stand-up without pyrotechnics and is utterly engaging, feel-good comedy”

CHORTLE

“Beautifully crafted, cleverly paced, hugely funny”

SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY

The reason I went back was that although I was still gigging all over the place (including to people like Tony Blair, The Reverend Jesse Jackson the Dalai Lama – gossip on request) and performing on all the usual TV stand-up shows, in the late 90’s other things began to get in the way.

Between 1998 and 2000 I was the co-host of twice weekly late night Channel5 sports chat show ‘Live and Dangerous’ with Mark Webster, I was hosting a sports radio show with Mark Webster; and I was the resident comedian on a TV sex show (not with Mark Webster).

And the reason a lot of you are here is probably because you know that I am technically still ‘that bloke from Match of the Day2’, but since the BBC moved to Salford they can’t afford to use me. It’s the best job a football fan could ever have. Travelling the country with football fans and filming in every corner of every ground in the Premier League. But it did mean I had to turn down a lot of gigs on a Saturday night.

Then, more significantly I was offered my first actual TV writing job. The great, and sadly late, TV producer Harry Thompson had nagged me for some time to write on ‘They Think It’s All Over’. I refused because, as a stand-up, I believed I had more integrity. Then he told me what the money was like and my integrity and I bid a fond and tearful farewell to each other at Euston Station.

When I retire I intend to write the complete backstage history of what life as a writer on TV comedy shows is like (hilarious/volatile sums it up), but many series on ‘They Think’ led to many series on ‘Never Mind the Buzzcocks’, ‘8 Out Of 10 Cats’, ‘Have I Got News For You’ and ‘A League Of Their Own’ among many others and during that time I have broken up fights, interrupted sex, kissed William Shatner, got drunk with Shane Warne, persuaded Jamie Redknapp you can’t banter during Ramadan and made Slash the best cup of tea he has ever had in his life.

“I am now back standing up as much as ever before with recent gigs in 2016 including me becoming the first ever comedian to play at a show in the Tower of London.”

Writing on TV shows led to offers of writing work from some very big names and I am immensely proud to have worked with and for Bob Monkhouse, Barry Cryer, Ronnie Corbett and especially, the genius that was Dave Allen.

I received a Writers’ Guild Award for my work with Dave in 1993, and Mark Thomas (him again) and I both count that as one of our finest achievements.

I still write on ‘Cats’, ‘ALOTO’ and ‘HIGNFY’ (industry code, see if you can crack it) and I still love it, but the reason I went back to Edinburgh is because I wanted to look into a mirror and see a stand-up comedian who writes looking back, not a writer who is an occasional stand-up comedian.

And I am now back standing up as much as ever before with recent gigs in 2016 including me becoming the first ever comedian to play at a show in the Tower of London.

That’s just a taste of how I got to be where I am now. It doesn’t include everything of course:

 

 

I didn’t mention being part of 5Live’s Sony Gold medal winning Cheltenham Festival coverage for 14 years.
 
I didn’t mention co-writing and directing ‘Arthur Smith Sings Leonard Cohen’.

I didn’t mention writing for Gary Lineker (would you?)

I didn’t mention working with Kevin Spacey.

I didn’t mention performing with Bill Hicks or singing ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ live on stage with Peter Hook playing the bass guitar.

I didn’t mention a lot of things mainly because I’ve spent a lot of time doing them and I didn’t write enough of them down at the time.

I didn’t mention interviewing George Best who was delightful or not interviewing Bobby Charlton who wasn’t.

I didn’t mention meeting Muhammad Ali and Desert Orchid (not at the same time)

I didn’t mention interviewing a naked Tony McCoy and Ruby Walsh in a sauna while I was wearing a three piece suit

I didn’t mention baby-sitting Jedward on the longest afternoon of my life

I apologise if I haven’t mentioned a show you produced, an interview you gave or a heckle you may have thrown at me in 1995.