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Roy “Chubby” Brown Live, Grand Opera House, York, July 12
NOBODY bothers with summer seasons any more, laments Roy “Chubby” Brown.
“I used to do five nights a week at Blackpool in the season; now no-one has any money and I just do a show there on a Saturday,” says the veteran lewd Middlesbrough comic.
“I’ll do two shows on a Saturday, depending on the ticket situation – and I don’t start until the first week of August when I used to start in the first week of June.”
“Chubby” will be in York on Thursday, playing the Grand Opera House with his customary polite warning: “If easily offended, please stay away!”
Staying away, however, is now a wider problem than someone being put off by industrial language. “I’ve had all the top acts on the phone and none of them is working the summer season,” says “Chubby”.
He fondly remembers his days of doing two shows a night at the Futurist in Scarborough, where “they’d be queueing out the door”. “Now it doesn’t help that people can’t park anywhere near the theatre or the sea front,” he says.
He will be playing “one or two” shows in Scarborough this summer, but time was when “Chubby” would rotate between Scarborough, Skegness, Blackpool, Rhyl, Great Yarmouth and Torquay every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the summer.
“Two weeks ago I did two gigs in the week: I played Swansea Grand Theatre – that was five and a half hours in the car and £150 petrol – and then Telford at the Oakengates Leisure Centre,” says “Chubby”, recalling his long-distance travels.
Whether he is playing Scarborough or Swansea, Telford or York, he applies the same methods of preparation. “Wherever I go, I do my homework; I see what’s going on in the local paper,” says “Chubby”.
“In this business, you create your show by looking at issues that affect everyone: anything we all know about. Tax; the police; sex; drink; politics…but political correctness has ruined it.
“I still have councils that stop me going to places but they’re living in the past.”
Maybe they are, but Roy “Chubby” Brown continues to be billed as “Britain’s most outrageous comedian”. “I have a moral obligation to still shock people after 43 years,” says Chubby, who nevertheless distances himself from the likes of Frankie Boyle.
“He’s built a reputation on being sick, whereas when I started in the clubs in the Seventies I just used the F-word, and I still don’t talk about things like paedophilia.
“I saw Jimmy Carr on the telly and thought he was very clever, very suave, the new Bob Monkhouse, but then I saw him live and he was suddenly saying things I couldn’t believe he was saying.”
A competitive streak still burns brightly in “Chubby” at 67. “These new comics…someone said to me Eddie Izzard speaks five languages. I said, ‘the trouble is, he’s not funny in any of them’,” he says.
To stay sharp in a very crowded market, “Chubby” writes every day. The challenge of trying out this new material is akin to facing a plate of chips, he says: how do you know which will go down the best?
You don’t, yet he savours that unpredictability in a set where he will tell 280 one-liners each night, changing his routines all the time.
“A lot of comedians are funnier than me, but they’re not as daring as me – though all I’ve ever wanted to do is support my wife and family with what I do,” he says.
The British comedy landscape may be changing, but not the root of that comedy. “Our humour has always been cruel, underhand, sarcastic and suggestive, where the only person who might die is the comic!” says Chubby.
“I’ve always thought my jokes are like sex: you have to have a quick start, a long finish and a lot of variety in the middle.”
Roy “Chubby” Brown Live, Grand Opera House, York, Thursday, 7.30pm. Tickets update: still available on 0844 871 3024 or atgtickets.com/york