The Rubber Bishops: The Comedy Store, London, 1992
Bill Bailey: Part Troll: Hammersmith Apollo, London, 2004
Play: The Odd Couple: Assembly on the Mound, Edinburgh, 2005
Bill Bailey: Steampunk: EICC, Edinburgh, 2006
Bill Bailey: Qualmpeddler: Leicester Square Theatre, London, 2013
Bill Bailey: Unplugged: Leicester Square Theatre, London, 2014
Bill Bailey: Limboland: Hammersmith Apollo, London, 2016
Bill Bailey: Larks in Transit: Wyndhams Theatre, London, 2018
The Greenwich Comedy Festival 2020: Greenwich Park, London, 2020
Always Be Comedy (2 shows): The Tommyfield pub, Kennington, London, 2023
I have been working in London for the most part since 1992. I have visited London since 1988 but during my first working year in 1992, I saw an act at The Comedy Store called The Rubber Bishops. As I sat in the audience, two men came onto the stage dressed in cassocks and started performing off-the-wall musical comedy. One was Martin Stubbs and the other was a then unknown Bill Bailey. The act was well known on the club circuit, but I had never seen anything as original and as funny on stage for a while. The act lasted until 1994 and I thought nothing more.
This was until 2004 when Bill Bailey, now on a solo act went on tour with his show Part Troll. The tour was a mixture of musical comedy and surreal stand-up routines that has endeared him over the years to the public. I have seen many of Bailey’s solo shows and he is a great comic performer delighting the audiences by playing songs and theme tunes on a variety of musical instruments interspersed with surprising and unexpected flights of fancy and comic turns.
Bailey proved that he could act when I saw him in 2005 at the Edinburgh Fringe starring with Alan Davies in the play The Odd Couple. Bailey played the shabby, dishevelled Oscar Madison who is forced to live with his best friend Felix Ungar (played by Davies), who is fussy to the point of lunacy. I was fascinated to see if this would work because I played Oscar on stage in an amateur dramatic production. The play written by classic American comedy playwright Neil Simon was one of the most enjoyable things I have been involved with and this production was no exception. The casting was inspired, very funny and earning Bailey critical approval. It was a great show and Bailey has since become a household comic name by making many television appearances and continuing playing live to great acclaim.
In 2013, my father passed away and after the funeral in Carlisle, I returned to London. I was not in the mood to see a comedy show but a friend of mine persuaded me to go and see Bill Bailey’s show Qualmpeddler at the Leicester Square Theatre in London. My father was a Union man and he died in same week that the UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher died. I reluctantly went to the show and sat in the front row of the audience with my friend feeling low. Bailey appeared on stage and said ‘What about Mrs Thatcher dying the other week? I’m more of an Iron Maiden fan myself. Mind you, they both made us run to the hills!’ I burst out laughing and could not stop and Bill Bailey gave me a thumbs-up acknowledging the laugh to his joke. Dad would have loved that.
I saw Bailey’s tour Larks in Transit for its Christmas residence at the Wyndhams Theatre in London in December 2018. Bailey is an extremely versatile comedian whose adventures and mishaps provoke thought through laughter. Any subject can be tackled at one of his live shows: one moment he was telling an extremely intelligent story about where the name of the particular day of his show comes from, the next he is playing a unique musical instrument from a variety on stage. The one-man musical comedy genius made entertaining his packed audience look extremely easy. This was a consistently amusing show full of belly laughs from a consummate professional.
The comic returned in September 2020 to headline a show for the Greenwich Comedy Festival. Creating musical comedy and listening to his intelligent comic rants for forty minutes was a joy to see at the socially distanced outdoor concert.
In October 2023, Bailey was a very special guest for Always Be Comedy. Working on new material for a forthcoming tour, it was a pleasure to see up close a master of comedy at work. As he walked on, I was cheering loudly from the front side chair, he wished I could be at all his gigs and acknowledged the crowd in my delight at seeing him. He played another set at the same venue later in the month and the major comic talent firmly established himself as one of Britain’s most popular comedians.