Network: My Technology - You have to know which key to press

What's the use of a pounds 5,000 organ that doesn't have any fun rhythm s? John Shuttleworth is sticking to his trusty Yamaha
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The Independent Culture
In my current tour I am the resident organist in Ken's Karvery. Wherever the theatre is, we turn it into a carvery. It's fantastic. I use it to create beautiful music, to move people. But the last few gigs we have had some funny noises coming in and it seems to be the millennium bug come rather early. Unfortunately, I don't reckon you can check the Yamaha out - if it breaks down you just have to take it on the chin.

It's a child's organ. I have big fingers, so I have to move them quite carefully over the fun-size keys. A lot of people get this organ and think it's easy to play because you only need to use one finger to get a chord. But you still need to know what finger to put down. It comes to me by instinct now, I must confess.

I have been playing my organ for quite a long time, since I was made redundant from being a security guard in a sweet factory. I got my golden handshake, and bought a Yamaha keyboard. Not this one, though, an inferior model.

Before the show, I make a little music sheet. It will tell me Style 24 is a slow samba, that kind of thing. I use the noises to make my audience laugh. There is one song, when I go from quick foxtrot to heavy rock and stop and say: "Yeah, like ELO used to do - speed up for no reason." The audience punch the air. I encourage them to get out their lighters and sing to the bar staff. I haven't got any punk on the organ, but I would like to see pogo-ing and stage diving.

It has many fun rhythms that make the audience chuckle. One sounds like a dog barking; a South American percussive instrument always makes people chuckle; and I have a fantastical fantasy flute. And Argentinian folklore. I haven't played that one for a while; after our dispute with the Falklands, I was a bit wary. But I think we have patched things up now.

I have also got sitar, techno and dance, for the younger people in the audience. I have got a mooing cow, as well.

I have a midi - don't know what midis are, but at least I have got it. I am doubly trendy. If a big DJ came down he might not be that impressed, but I would defend myself with some nifty moves. And I have some very modern words on my keyboard, like "Vecta", so I think these young DJs would be impressed.

I chose the organ because a guitar would annoy your wife if you played it in the lounge. With the organ I can use the headphones and she can still watch Emmerdale Farm. But sometimes I do start to make raspy breathing noises and excessive saliva is produced. It's a bit of a peril. I think it is from the concentration needed to decide what finger to use.

Lots of people ask me for advice about what models are best. The posher ones just sound like a record. I wouldn't buy them, because I like the fun rhythms.

The audience don't take it seriously - but they should do. Some of these organs that cost pounds 5,000 don't have a man going "Ee-ya!" like a cowboy.

Interview by

Jennifer Rodger

John Shuttleworth, aka the comedian Graham Fellows, takes his all-new `Ken's Karvery' on tour in Britain until 22 March; call 0171-287 5010 for details