Comedy: Simon Day today

Simon Day had just returned from shooting an advert. No doubt he'll be invited to do a lot more such work now that The Fast Show has turned him into one of the hottest properties this side of an England World Cup ticket.

The huge success of the BBC2 series was cannily followed by a live 30- date run at the Hammersmith Apollo, which played to more than 100,000 people. Most rock mega-bands would be hard pushed to match those sort of figures.

The TV show achieved Monty Python levels of catchphrase-repetition. You can hardly enter a pub or playground these days without hearing some bright spark piping up with "suit you" or "scorchio". "People were just waiting for something new to happen," Day proffers by way of explanation. "The Fast Show was such a good idea. People have always loved sketch-shows, but often the sketches just go on too long. The idea of getting in, doing the catchphrase and then getting out again is brilliant. If you don't like a sketch, there'll be another one along in a minute."

But just why did people flock in such numbers to see The Fast Show on stage? "It's that zeitgeist thing of everyone wanting to see live the characters they've watched on telly," Day reckons. "A lot of people thought it was even better than the TV show, because we really took time with the set, and we're good performers."

They certainly are. Day now takes such inspired characters as Billy Bleach, Gideon Soames and Tommy Cockles onto the solo stage. But he is not just surfing the trendy wave of character comedy; he was performing it way back when. "At one time, only John Shuttleworth and I were doing it. Then Vic Reeves came along and smashed the idea that you had to say `isn't it funny when you go to the supermarket?', and straight stand-up started dying out. People could see character comedy was the way forward. I never got up there and said `it's terrible what Thatcher has done to this country'. I've always used funny voices - like David Lynch directing Brookside. Doing characters is about hiding and not having to show yourself on stage."

One last word of encouragement for Fast Show addicts currently going cold turkey. This may not be the end of the show as we know it. Day thinks the crew have at least another Christmas special in them. "The producers, Paul [Whitehouse] and Charlie [Higson], will go away from it for a bit. But we're such a good team. Look at The Day Today. They did a great show together; then they split up and did things individually which weren't as good. Anyway, the BBC don't get that many hit shows, so they've got to make the most of them."

Simon Day is at the Shepherd's Bush Empire, London W12 (0171-924 9999) tonight


Bob Mills often seems like the weatherman - there every time you turn the television on. So wrapped up has he been with presenting various programmes - Win, Lose or Draw, The Show and In Bed with MeDinner - that he has recently neglected his stand-up roots. Now, for the first time in four years, this accomplished stand-up returns to them.

He plays Beck Theatre Hayes (0181-561 8371) tonight; Lewisham Theatre Catford (0181-690 0002) tomorrow; The Swan High Wycombe (01494 512000) Wed