Downstairs at the Kings Head: The Kings Head Pub, Crouch End, London, 1993
Harry Hill: First Class Scamp: Manchester Apollo, Manchester, 1998
Harry Hill: Hooves! London Palladium, London, 2005
An Audience with Harry Hill: (TV Recording) ITV London Studios, 2009
Harry Hill and Friends: Union Chapel, Islington, London, 2015
Always Be Comedy: The Tommyfield Pub, Kennington, London, 2016
Nick Helm’s Xmas F*ck Fest 4: Pleasance Theatre, Islington, London, 2018
Always Be Comedy (3 shows): The Tommyfield pub, Kennington, London, 2019
Always Be Comedy Online (3 shows): Online: 2020
Return of The Craic Online Comedy Club: Online: 2021
Always Be Comedy Online: The James Gill Roast: Online: 2021
I first saw Harry Hill’s surreal, brilliantly funny act at the Kings Head pub in Crouch End, London in 1993. Downstairs at The Kings Head is a comedy night that has been running on a weekly basis since 1981 founded by Huw Thomas, a lecturer at Middlesex University and Peter Grahame, a musician. Thomas compered the night from its inception to the early 2000s when he semi-retired. When I went to the comedy night in 1993, Thomas introduced Harry Hill who appeared to be late and made his entrance through the audience. As he brushed past me and clambered up onto the stage, he looked bewilderingly at the audience and said ‘I’m sorry I’m late Ladies and Gentlemen, I had to have a testicle brought down…’ (pause for a laugh which he got), ‘from Derby!’ To this day, this is the best opening line to a live routine I’ve ever heard and what a routine it was. I watched in laughter and amazement as Hill constructed five different jokes and routines by only saying one line of the first, then one line of the second and so on. Hill has used this method in his live performances for years to high comic effect and in particular a routine involving a trip up the M1 and M6 involving all the motorway service stations in order from South to North was also memorable. Most of the audience got this odd style of hilarious comedy and Hill left the stage that night to rapturous applause and laughter from a very happy audience.
I saw him on tour in Manchester in 1998 and again at the London Palladium in 2005 which featured bizarre characters and puppets. The Manchester show entitled First Class Scamp included a routine about supermarket checkouts which my friend who I went with could not stop laughing at both in the audience and all the way home on the bus. At the London show called Hooves!, I will never forget Hill dressed as the channel 4 newsreader Zeinab Badawi travelling on a swivel chair from one side of the Palladium stage to the other singing ‘I’m Zeinab Badawi’ to the tune of the The In Crowd. He delivered a very, very funny show that night.
I next saw for a TV recording of An Audience with Harry Hill in 2009 in front of an audience of celebrities. This show featured routines included in his biggest success to date on television Harry Hill’s TV Burp which ran for eleven years from 2001 to 2012.
My next live encounter with Harry Hill came when he topped a bill (including Tim Key) at the Union Chapel in Islington, London in 2015. Harry Hill and Friends featured a routine with Hill dressed as a vicar giving a sermon about electrical cabling. I could not stop laughing at this and Hill turned to me from the stage and said, ‘You seem to be really enjoying this. Do you work at Maplins, sir?’ I do not but my night was made nevertheless.
I finally got to meet Harry Hill in 2016. To date, I have seen him perform twice at Always Be Comedy at The Tommyfield pub in Kennington, London. The first included the time I met him. As I shook his hand, I said to him that I had been a fan for thirty years. He thought this was amazing as he told me he had only been going twenty five!
The comic genius that is Hill was the first guest on Nick Helm’s Christmas show that I saw in December 2018. Everyone was delighted to see him in the knowledge that they were going to have a great time. One of the joys of watching him for me is that after five minutes of surreal jokes and stories, he will deliver a line that has a wonderful reactionary laugh from the whole audience. Something he says or does always creates this moment – here it was a bizarre dance he performed – and spending time in his hilarious company always puts me in a good mood.
Hill made three guest appearances for Always Be Comedy, twice in March 2019 and then in June 2019. I am very lucky to have seen this brilliant comedian many times live over the years so much so that he always is good to watch but I can pick out performances that are memorable. His Always Be Comedy appearances in March 2019 were unforgettable because even although he was performing new material, one performance included the subject matter comparing life in the 1970s to now, which was superb. The delivery and timing were perfect, and the routine was consistently funny so much so that I could not stop laughing. In June 2019, for an encore he performed a unique and hilarious rendition of the song My Way.
Hill returned for two Always Be Comedy Online shows in April and September 2020. Everyone was staying indoors due to a worldwide pandemic and Hill’s set was incredible including having an unforgettable conversation with an inspired puppet of the Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty, a daily workout of gymnastics and finishing with a George Formby song. Hill was perfect for the online format being such a wonderful physical and visual comedian.
Hill was a guest at the Always Be Comedy Online Christmas Charidee Special in December 2020. Watching the bizarre online world created by the comedian, I was invited to play Cutlery Snap where armed with a shopping bag of knives, forks and spoons, I happily played along and it was an experience I will never forget with one of my favourite comedians.
Hill also made a guest appearance for Return of The Craic Online Comedy Club where his Chris Whitty puppet and wife puppet made a welcome return as he chatted to host Jarlath Regan.
In June 2021, compere James Gill celebrated his birthday online at Always Be Comedy Online. An amazing line up of surprise comedians including Hill gave a no-holds-barred tribute ‘roast’ to the great man. The show was one of the funniest ninety-minutes of the year.
It has been a wonderfully funny joy to watch Hill perform live over the years and his rise to fame on television, radio, print and on stage is so richly deserved to become one of the country’s most loved and popular modern comedians.