'There was this comedian eating a steak off a plank, right'

PASSPORT

Frank Skinner first used his passport for work purposes in 1990. A Swede who'd seen Frank and Eddie Izzard perform at the Comedy Store, booked them to do a week's stand-up in Stockholm. Frank remembers: "The Swedes speak English, but there's a difference between speaking English and understanding comedy. I started off doing it all slowly so they'd understand me, but that breaks the rhythm of it and doesn't work. So by the end I just blasted it it out and hoped for the best, and the audience sort of guessed what was funny"

Frank was shocked at how expensive Sweden was. He says: "I remember the horror of paying three quid for a Coca Cola in 1990." He also recalls a strange restaurant meal which he and Eddie ordered. "They had a thing called 'steak on a plank' and we laughed, thinking it obviously didn't mean that. But the steak and mashed potato came on a short piece of wood, and they'd put a tiny indentation for the tomato so it wouldn't roll off."

More recent stamps in Frank's passport show that his brand of comedy goes down well in Australia. "I did the Adelaide Comedy Festival in 1995 and this year I did 40 shows in Australia. I wrote lots of Australian material - I can't use any of the stuff over here of course, but it was worth it. I can only do one Australian accent and it's based exclusively on Alf from Home and Away. So whether I'm doing an old woman, a glamorous young girl or a child, they all say things like 'Now look here you bludger!' which I don't think anyone says any more in Australia. I explained this to the Australians and they seemed to accept it." Last year saw Frank travel to Africa for Comic Relief. "We went as a celebrity football team to play African teams. Mid field was essentially me, Angus Deayton, David Baddiel and David Essex and we had Nick Hancock up front. We played barefoot on pitches with big holes, and even had a friendly on a landing strip in the Sahara Desert. We ended up in a stadium playing against the Ghana Post Office women's team. We won 4-3." Frank's passion for football also took him to France earlier this year. "I had this plan that I was going to learn French in anticipation of the World Cup next summer, but I haven't really learned anything other than 'merci' and hand gestures." He stayed at the famous Colombe d'Or on the Riviera. "The Colombe d'Or is nice because it's a posh hotel, but it's arty post, so it's alright to wear trainers and a T-shirt. I have a lot of problems in hotels, because in most places the staff are used to business people, and if they see a male who isn't wearing a suit and tie they go into a panic and think you've come off the street looking for spare food."

ROSANNA GREENSTREET

8 Frank Skinner starts a UK tour on 3 September.

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