Comedy - Tim Vine
Award-winning comic and star of BBC's Not Going Out, Tim Vine comes to Fairfield on his Punslinger tour. He tells Mark Hill about his first jobs in Croydon and the highpoints of his career to date
Yet another illustrious comic hotfooting it from a spell at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to Croydon, Tim Vine tells me he "can't wait" to perform for his fans in South London.
Punmaster: Tim Vine returns to his Croydon roots
"Lots and lots of jokes!" are what he promises from his latest show. "Joke-joke-joke-joke-joke, silly song, joke, prop, joke, joke-joke-joke, silly song, joke-joke-joke-joke-joke-joke. Oh, and an apology at the end!"
"It takes a little while to put the show together because the nature of what I do is all, 'Three cheers for rap music – hip-hop!' it's all that sort of thing. They're quite short jokes so you have to write 10 - and maybe three or four of them work!"
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Tim,who once hung around outside the back of the Grosvenor House Hotel in his early 20s to 'press the flesh' with ear-biting former boxing champ Mike Tyson, is known as being the master of the puns and his shows prove continual sell-outs for all ages.
"I've always done silly one-liners and there's quite a lot of wordplay in it, which is the pun angle of it, but I've tried writing slightly longer things and they always end up getting shorter and shorter till it ends up being a one-liner again. I think I get nervous waiting for the length of time between laughs; if I get a laugh at something, I want to get another laugh again soon."
As for comic influences, Tim, 41, who was the first man to appear on Channel 5 when he followed the Spice Girls to officially launch the channel alongside Julia Bradbury, says there're too many to name.
"All those dead comedians influenced me.
"Tommy Cooper was great but pretty much every comedian that's dead must have influenced me in some way. My act is quite traditional in so far as it's jokes; it's not me saying, 'You know what it's like when you're in a car and the door falls off…', which would, actually, be quite a good start to a joke!"
Acclaimed stand-up comic Tim is one of the few that always uses 'clean' material and I ask if that is anything to do with being a devout Christian (he even used to play drums at his local church in Cheam)?
"Being a Christian is a major part of my life, but at the same time I don't bill myself as, 'I'm a Christian comedian'.
"I'm a comedian who happens to be a Christian. But the fact there's no swearing in my act… I don't actually sit down and think, 'OK, I must make sure there's no swearing in my act – because I am a Christian!' In silly comedy, there's no room for swearing – if you're being stupid and childish – it wouldn't fit my act, anyway. If I'm saying something like, 'Black Beauty, he's a dark horse', where's the room for the swearing in that?"
Now living in Banstead, Tim first got into comedy when he used to take part in a weekly competition night at the Comedy Café in central London. As his reputation and confidence grew, so did his fan base and he soon branched out on his own.
In 2004 he attained the world record for telling the most jokes in an hour - 499. Each joke had to get a laugh from the paying audience to count towards the record.
"I had a DVD that was coming out in 2004 and as some sort of PR for it, I rang up the Guinness Book Of Records and said, 'Is there a record for most jokes told in an hour?' and they said, 'Yes, it's 362', and I thought, '362? I think I beat that last weekend!' So I went and did it and beat it but it's been beaten since."
In 1995 he won the Perrier Award for Best Newcomer and the late Bob Monkhouse said of Tim: "He has taken the trick of word play and extended it to lengths no-one has ever dared before. A very funny man indeed."
Tim is known to millions for starring as 'Tim' in hit BBC sitcom Not Going Out opposite fellow comic Lee Mack whom he knew from when they worked together on the Bafta Award-winning The Sketch Show (2001-2003). He says he wasn't first choice to star in the show, but he's thrilled to be part of it and they're about to start filming a third series.
This time last year Tim appeared on a celebrity edition of ITV's Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? with his brother, renowned journalist and presenter Jeremy Vine, where the pair raised £1,000 for the Fire Services National Benevolent Fund.
"That was great fun – loved that.
"It was brilliant fun, even though I rather messed it up in the end."
Also in 2007 he starred alongside fellow celebs such as Tara Palmer-Tompkinson, Rowland Rivron and Linda Robson in the BBC's Comic Relief Does Fame Academy where he was the fourth person to be voted off.
"That was one of the most exciting things I'd ever done in my life. I love singing and it was great pretending you're a popstar for a bit."
Like many comics, Tim has also had a bash at presenting quiz shows such as Whittle, Fluke and Fort Boyard Takes On The World. He has made regular appearances on long-running daytime show Through The Keyhole as one of the celebrity panel.
Tim, who has a new DVD (Tim Vine – Live – So I Said To This Bloke) coming out next month, has a fair few links with Croydon.
"I used to work in Croydon!
"My first ever job was in Croydon – in Allders. When I was 18 I worked there and when I first saw the job advertised it said it was for a 'mobile float', and I thought to myself, 'Whatever that is, it sounds like I'm going to be driving around the shop in some sort of milk float! It's going to be fantastic'. But, actually, what it turned out to mean was whichever department was short that day, that's what you worked in. I was there for about three months."
"Then I worked in an office in Croydon, on Wellesley Road, for about four years. I used to commute from Cheam. I made some very good friends in Croydon and I started doing my comedy when I was working in this office in Croydon. Ah, memories!"
Tim Vine comes to the Ashcroft Theatre, Croydon on Thursday, September 18 at 7.45pm.
Tickets £15, call 020 8688 9291.