ACCLAIMED comic Phill Jupitus is bringing his intriguing new three character improvisational comedy to the Alley Theatre in Strabane.
The Never Mind the Buzzcocks and QI regular has come up with a dazzlingly inventive three-part show that will surprise and delight his legions of fans.
He brings “You’re Probably Wondering Why I’ve Asked You Here…” to the Alley Theatre on Sunday (October 6).
Phill plays three very different characters: The Late Vernon Herschel Harley, a legend of stage and screen who died at the age of 114 just last Thursday; The Late Kurt Schiffer, the ‘Korvettenkapitan’ of the U42B, part of the German Navy’s feared “Wolf Pack”, which was the scourge of the Atlantic shipping lanes during the Second World War; and The Late Phill Jupitus, who died on 24 June 2052 on the eve of his ninetieth birthday.
Speaking ahead of his visit to Strabane, Phill explained: “Recently, when I was playing Vernon, one guy from the audience said, ‘Tell us about your feud with Tony Curtis, which I know you don’t like to talk about.’ That was brilliant.
“On another night, an audience member shouted out to the German submarine commander, ‘Tell us about your secret mission to kill Winston Churchill.’
“I gave that a 10-minute answer. You have to go deep into the character. Something fires you up on stage. The more creative the audience, the more they are rewarded with the responses.”
He continued: “I chose Vernon because I’m really keen on film and theatre. If anyone throws a particular film or actor at him, there is no way he has not worked with them. So if someone says, ‘Tell us about The Lord of the Rings,’ Vernon will reply, ‘That was one of the most difficult catering jobs of my whole career. As you know, Peter Jackson is dieting quite seriously.’
“It’s that great improviser’s maxim of never saying no to an idea. If you ever hear actors on Desert Island Discs, they’re always very cheesy. They’ve always got a story about ‘dear, dear Larry Olivier.’ Vernon is that character taken to ludicrous extremes.”
Phill derives just as much pleasure from portraying Kurt. The comic muses that: “As a kid, I was fascinated by the Second World War. I was born in 1962, and the War was very much part of the zeitgeist back then.
“My grandparents and parents would talk about the War and rationing. I grew up with the comics Victor and Valiant – the Second World War was at the forefront of our culture.
“I can still tell you the names of tanks. We had the Cromwell, and the Germans had the Tiger.
“I had the terrible boy’s affliction of being obsessed with war. So it is cathartic to have this chance to get that out of my system. Compared to the florid Vernon, Kurt is quite taciturn. But I really enjoy telling his story because the War is so fascinating.”
In the final part of the show, Phill plays a deceased version of himself in the future, reflecting on his life. The comedian says: “It’s a great device because the audience can ask me not just about myself, but also about current affairs.
“I can spiral off, looking at the future of the world over the next 40 years. The other day, an audience member said to me as The Late Phill Jupitus, ‘Tell us about your first Budget.’
“I replied, ‘A lot of people were very surprised when I was made Chancellor by Prime Minister McIntyre in his all-comedy Cabinet.’ The more the audience invest in the show, the more they get out of it. They will never be short-changed.”
Phill Jupitus will be at the Alley Theatre on Sunday 6th October. Tickets are £15 and available from the Alley Theatre Box Office on 028 71 384444 or online www.alley-theatre.com