HARRY HILL presents 30 crucial minutes of sketches and stand-up. Marvel as a special guest each week sings a 90's hit; be astounded as BERT KWOUK demonstrates a series of ingenious methods to capture a hen; thrill as Finsbury Park, the cheap scientist, comes up with another amazing invention. All this and badger parades too. "To see Harry Hill is to experience one of the purest and most sophisticated forms of entertainment currently available in this country." Ben Thompson - GQ HARRY HILL arrives on Channel Four with his very own show from the makers of Fantasy Football League and The Frank Skinner Show. With several sell-out UK tours and numerous sold out dates in the West End, Harry has established himself as one of Britain's leading live comedians. Last year his unique blend of absurd observations, running gags and catchphrases captivated television audiences in America when he was invited to perform on The Late Show With David Letterman - one of the USA's highest rated entertainment shows. After a succesful performance he was promptly invited back for a second appearance and he's due back this year for a third time. In the past two years Harry has received three prestigious nominations from the British Comedy Awards: Best Live Stand-up, Best New Television Performer and Best Radio Series for Harry Hill's Fruit Corner (BBC Radio 4).
Taken From Channel 4s Archives.
On stage, Harry Hill is a very odd sight. With huge wing collars swallowing his neck, and jam-jar spectacles magnifying his eyes, he has the demeanour of a two-legged turtle in mod-suit and brothel-creepers. In person, though, he's good-looking, relaxed and exceedingly normal, dressed in white T-shirt and shorts. He's an `alternative' comic who knows the value of showbiz; a sensible man trussed up in weirdo chic. At 30, after only five years as a stand-up, Hill is at the forefront of the post-Vic Reeves comic generation. His brilliant radio show, Harry Hill's Fruit Corner, is a cult success, and his television series, Harry Hill's Fruit Fancies, was repeated by BBC2 only two weeks after its first run. His main achievement is to combine originality, intelligence and wit with, as Stewart Lee (see facing page) puts it, 'popularity among thick, drunk people'. Hill nods hesitantly. `True, although there are lots of drunk people who don't like me. But, yes, I do have a relatively broad appeal considering how obscure the material is.' In fact the material is not so much obscure as strangely structured: references (to quattro formaggio pizzas, Savlon antiseptic cream and other trivia) flash up briefly, then recur throughout his act in an apparently random, cut-up fashion. But, as Hill admits, the meat of his performance is actually very old-fashioned. 'Yeah, it's very boom! boom!, isn't it? It's tongue-in-cheek, but it's also nostalgic for those old acts - Eric and Ernie, Tommy Cooper, Brucie, Tarby, Ronnie Corbett. The thing is, I've always been fond of jokes - proper, long jokes with good punchlines.' The degree of irony in Hill's act is hard to gauge. Eric Morecambe and Tommy Cooper were, after all, very knowing and tongue-in-cheek. Perhaps the only real criteria is that they were funny, and so is Hill. Like both of them, he chuckles almost constantly at his own jokes. 'Yeah, I enjoy myself too much,' he admits bashfully. 'I was watching myself on my new video the other day and I was thinking: God, I look so smug!' When he started doing stand-up five years ago, he was still working part-time as a junior doctor, telling gynaecological gags to fellow medical students. 'I started off quite deadpan, and gradually started mucking about, adding little moves and hunches.' The look, though, was there from near the beginning. 'I had The suit and the shirt, and I acquired the shoes after 18 months.' And The Collars? `The bigger they got, the more people laughed.' For such an apparent natural, Hill is very matter-of-fact about his appeal. 'I don't really fit in anywhere; I've got a bit of everything. The knowingness and cleverness of people like Steve Coogan, the silliness of Reeves and Mortimer, and old-fashioned gags.' Maybe this is the reason for his burgeoning popularity? Hill's act is almost a compendium of British comedy's edited highlights. His skill is to sew all these patches together without the seams showing. Not that he has any illusions about his fashionability. `It's very rare to get a comedian who's in favour for more than a few years. I can feel that it's coming round again to the angry young men.' So what will Harry do if his comic star wanes? 'Well, getting out of medicine made me realise that I could just change direction and do something new.' Any plans? 'Shop life seems quite nice,' he muses. 'Maybe I'll have a bric-a-brac shop. A bit of everything.'
Taken From The Observer
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