As part of the Christmas alternative comedy festival at the HoHo Theatre – an abandoned gentlemen’s club in the City of London – Laugh Out London comedy club brings you festive themed interviews with several of the performers putting on shows.
Boothby Graffoe is performing on December 3 as part of a double-bill of shows with Richard Herring.
Here’s his take on getting goats for Christmas and performing in an empty field.
If you could design a Christmas jumper what would you have on it?
I think i’d go for “Down With Capitalism.” – made out of Cashmere, to appeal to the wealthy end of the market. The profit margin is so much more that way because even though the the cost of running the sweat-shop that makes them is as low as it is for your average high-street retailer’s stock, the mark-up is vast by comparison. That’s the good thing about a western economy. People have learnt that to wear second-hand clothes just isn’t as classy as owning stuff you can be certain is ruining young lives even as you’re putting it on.
I learnt the other day that posh shops sell tea at between £25 – £125 per 100g. This is tea that they pay people just over £1 a day to pick half a hundred-weight of.
Rich people are great.
I might even have tea leaves individually hand-sewn into the jumpers too.
What date do you put up the Christmas decorations in your house and how far do you go?
When the children were younger we used to do the 12 days thing, the 6 days up to and the 6 days afterwards. Now the kids are old enough to drink and stuff we all just get really wrecked and, I have to admit, a family acid trip means you don’t really need tinsel to see pretty colours.
Christmas has been associated with a lot of classic comedy moments, from Morecambe and Wise to The Royle Family. What are your Christmas comedy memories?
You’re talking about T.V. right? That’s a hard one. Telly is transitory stuff for me, I don’t remember shows i watched yesterday. There was a sketch Bill Bailey did on T.V. once about a guy trying to sell his house, and it was really hard because it was next door to a fog horn testing factory, and he’d only bought it because he’d viewed it on the one Saturday afternoon of the month when they had a day off and i don’t think it was a Christmas show or anything but it is very, very funny. I recommend watching it.
There’s also a telly sketch by Omid Djalili about a cruise act called Giggles Levine who, off stage, is this unassuming Geordie bloke, but on stage he turns into the worst sort of American, ranting, shouting, swearing, out of date, pseudo political, arse-head. He’s playing to an audience of middle-class elderly people on a cruise ship, just after the juggler, and he comes on and starts screaming obscenities at them. He ends up by dropping his trousers and shitting on the British flag. That wasn’t shown at Christmas time either, but it made me laugh a lot. Seriously, check it out.
What is the worst present you have received at Christmas?
When I was in my early 20s I lived on the 18th floor of a high-rise block of flats and a friend of mine bought me a goat. Like, a live goat. Not even like, it was one. It was a live goat. The weird thing is that, in the contract i signed for the flat with the council, there was a clause that allowed me to keep livestock, so the goat lived with me for a while. On the 18th floor. We haven’t seen each other in years now. Last I heard, he was writing for The Jonathan Ross Show.
What’s your suggestion for a Christmas cracker joke?
Q: How do you know your life is fucked? A: You’re reading this.
Are you looking forward to performing in such a unique space as The Grotto of comedy?
Yes, of course.
What’s the strangest location you’ve performed in previously?
I did a gig in Pentonville Prison once. Not as much fun as it sounds.
And a gig in a swimming pool. Not in the water, but i’m not sure that mattered. Four acts and a compere. In a swimming pool. Martin Soan was on too, ask him about it. He put water wings on all his props.
And one time I compered a gig on the back of a trailer in a huge field. It was some kind of cycling charity thing and the idea was the audience were all riding their bikes about 30 miles to this field for the show. The show was due to start at 10.30 a.m. – only non of the audience had arrived yet, but the organiser was insistent that the show went up on time.
I remember them saying to me – “You have to go on and start the show now!”
And I remember replying – “Why?”
It was an empty field. i’m not kidding. There was nobody there.
So I walked out, chatted to a couple of daisies for a minute, and then introduced Ian Cognito.
To an empty field.
He did 45 minutes.
And I toured Denmark for a month with three Danish comics. Carsten Eskelund, Geo, and Rune Klan. They are lovely guys, and probably very funny, I don’t know, they, all three of them, did their acts in Danish. Rune is a world class magician, so he was fun to watch. Geo is just nuts so I found him pretty entertaining even though i didn’t understand what he was saying. One night, after the show, Carsten and I got very drunk and he translated his act into English for me. I still didn’t get it. i suspect he may be dangerous.
I could answer this question all day. Maybe i should write a book? – “How I Made The Cat Cry.”
We will be raising lots of money for Shelter this year – An estimated 100,000 children thought to be homeless in the UK this Christmas. Discuss!
You’re a good man, Bob, you really are.