So Miles Jupp is to be the new presenter of the News Quiz. This is splendid news. Not just because he is a fine and funny chap. But because I have met him. I am hardly a regular fixture on the dinner party scene, but should those invites start coming in, and people ask me “So do you know Miles Jupp?”. I can tell them about the time I was sat in a bar in The Hague with him and Andre Vincent, trying to listen to radio commentary of a valiant but ultimately unsuccessful innings by Ravi Bopara against Sri Lanka during the 2007 cricket World Cup. A glorious time to be alive.
I have pretty much met them all at some stage. So today’s blog is not about same sex marriage, or Tunisian terrorism or a guide to the hottest male tennis palyers. It is a quizk guide to my brief encounters with the great and good of British comedy.
Simon Pegg. My second ever gig. June 1995. The King’s Head Theatre in Islington. Ed Byrne was headlining. A promising young comedian called Simon Pegg was compering. I did five minutes of filth. He said “Paul is available for children’s parties”. Our paths never crossed again.
Ricky Gervais I shook his hand at a party in 2000. I doubt if he remembers.
Dara O Briain He is a colossal man, and most of it is brain. He is far cleverer than I am. He owes me ten pounds petrol money after I drove him back to London from a gig at Nottingham University. I dont bear grudges.
Johnny Vegas He once bought me a pizza in a hotel bar in Nottingham. Lovely man.
Daniel Kitson We watched Sexy Beast together in a cinema in Morecambe. I prayed that romance might be forthcoming, but he was pretty firm on the issue, and complained that my praying was putting him off the film. Ben Kingsley was memorable, but I always thought that his histrionics took a little away from Ray Winstone’s finest performance.
Reginald D Hunter Late night meal, Manchester Chinatown. He asked me why I choose to come across as a gay whore on stage. I explained that that was exactly how I saw myself. He looked confused. He didn’t eat much.
Ross Noble After once staying the night in his spare room back in 99, I can confirm that the man owns a lot of pairs of trainers.
Micky Flanagan I did Edinburgh with him in 2001. Every night I watched “Out Out”. A masterful routine, though if Id known that one day he’d beat me on Celebrity Chase, I would have been less enamoured.
Russell Howard I was once in a pub with him in York, when a woman punched her friend in the face in an argument about who would get to chat him up first. Ladies – decide these issues before you come out for the evening.
John Oliver The greatest satirist on the planet showed me how to inflate a car tyre, at a petrol station in West Norwood in 2001. I really am car illiterate.
Rhod Gilbert In December 2004 we went on a three hour boat trip around the coast of Oman with a mysterious stranger. The mysterious stranger had prepared a massive vat of the best lamb biryani that I had ever eaten, so all was good.
Tim Vine In 1999 I had lunch with Tim in Liverpool. He was perusing his joke book when he said “Oh this is bad. Dustbin Hoffman” He also showed us a “scar” on his car where he had once tried to fry an egg on a hot day. A king amongst men.
Flight of the Conchords The only time in my life that I have had a future Oscar winner in the back of my car, was driving the offbeat New Zealand duo back to London after a gig at Brunel University. I still have not decided which one is hotter, though it is probably the little fella.
Michael McIntyre and Jim Jeffries For three days in 2002 I shared a flat in Newcastle with these two future superstars. During those three days the swaggering Australian bad boy, and the polite English observations guy refused to say a single word to each other. I don’t imagine they are regularly skyping each other even now.
Peter Kay I have never met him. But I think his writers must have seen my act at least once.
Rich Hall I once interrupted a meal he was having at the Red Fort in Soho, to tell him I was a fan. What a dick. And what an overpriced restaurant. He was politeness and patience personified.
Russell Peters One of the most successsful comedians on the planet organised a three week show in Durban in 2003, called India’s Kings of Comedy. I was invited, and another guy Paul Chowdhry was headliner. I dont think it’s necessarily the right phrase, but Russell got through one hell of a lot of punani. Chowdhry pretended to be diabetic to try and get a seat next to me on the flight back. It didnt work.