7 Sensible Questions: Phil Ellis
He is comedy’s first prince of carefully-crafted amateurism. Here he talks to our stuffed monkey.
My Boss, Mr Kipper, started Fringepig partly because he was so pissed off with the reviewers who didn’t understand your 2013 show, Unplanned Orphan. Now you’re doing Funz and Gamez for the third time. Is it boring having a room full of people who understand what you’re doing? Have you maybe lost your Kaufman-like, situationist edge?
I loved that first Edinburgh show and part of the fun was playing it pretty straight and sending out a misleading press release that led reviewers to believe that it would be a powerful emotional journey
I did expect more people to realise what the joke was: an idiot who’d lied and was desperately trying to make a shambolic show award-worthy. The reviews were a lot of fun to play with though. My favourite was Broadway Baby’s opening line, “Paul Ellis’s show was a series of errors”. Funz and Gamez was meant to be a continuation of that style.
I was initially hoping for walkouts, and there were a few at first, but I soon realised you could make it accessible for the kids and the parents on different levels and that it was probably best to not emotionally scar the children. Sometimes I wish I could go back to my old style of getting a masochistic pleasure from a room full of paying customers hating me and believing everything that was going on was real and unintentional.
Uncle Mick was unwell last time I saw him. Is he getting the help he needs?
Not really seen him since the court case but he assures me he’s living clean and will be “out” in time for the Festival.
In every show you’ve ever done, like, EVER, you’ve banged on incessantly about your ex-girlfriend. Leanne, was it? If you heard that she had been eaten by a crocodile do you think this would help you to move on, or would it make things even worse?
Well firstly I think it’s unfair to say that I “banged on” about her. I may have mentioned her briefly in passing. I’m not even bothered that she kept the house and the Rover 416 and that she’s married a builder called Jamie. Not arsed mate.
The crocodile “tragedy” would make life easier for me I suppose because she wouldn’t be able to keep moving house all the bloody time. She’s costing me a fortune in private investigator and legal fees.
… OK, what if she hadn’t been eaten by a crocodile but was now engaged to one? How would that stack up?
She already is married to a scaly, unpleasant reptile.
What’s the best banana you’ve ever eaten? Please set the scene and the mood. Include the weather. Take me there.
Ah, I remember it like it was yesterday. The best banana I ever had was yesterday, inside the comfort of a shed. It was dusk and I had just woken from a deep slumber; there was a nice cool eastern breeze gently whistling through the spyhole I had made with a fork. I slowly peeled the first banana skin flap southward as I closed my eyes and bit my bottom lip in anticipation.
I couldn’t wait any longer; I de-flapped the banana, opened my mouth wide and took it whole into my mouth. Gagging slightly and with my eyes watering, I threw my head back and let it slide comfortably down my throat and into my cavernous belly. I smiled from the corner of my mouth and winked at no one in particular. Then the door flew open, as if it was in a hurry to embrace the lawnmower.
There stood Police Constable Patricia. We’d met a few weeks previous but, this time, I wasn’t disguised as a chimnea. She cuffed me like a common criminal and dragged me toward the car before I even had a chance to pull my trousers up (and I ALWAYS go commando). “I put that shed up Leanne! I have visitation rights to the shears too you know!” I exclaimed proudly. But my well-made argument was ignored and now I have to collect litter three times a week in a hi-vis jacket. Good banana though.
Too right! My dad used to shoot the pricks for a laugh.
I’m sure I’d get on with your dad. If your comedy career was on fire, which two items would you save?
What do you mean if? I’d save my chiselled good looks and my incredible sense of…
Shag, marry, kill: An ostrich, former African dictator Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga, and the crocodile from question 3? (Note: it has apologised about eating Leanne and bought you a drink).
Timing. I don’t believe in any of the above activities so I’d just sit them all down and talk to them about myself until I felt they knew the real me.
Funz and Gamez: Flogging a Dead Horze, 13:30, Just the Tonic at The Community Project, Aug 4-27 (not 14) Phil Ellis has Been on Ice, 19:40, Just the Tonic at The Mash House. Aug 3-27 (not 14)