Never mind the integrity, feel the pay packet...

 

Share

I am, I must admit, available for Bar Mitzvahs, birthdays and weddings. There is a thriving underworld in which comedians and entertainers make a pact with the devil and perform at corporate events and shindigs to keep the ever-present wolf from their rickety door. I remember when I first did one – for Vodafone. My agents were contacted and asked whether I'd be prepared to introduce the then chief executive of the company on stage at their annual meeting by screaming into my giant mobile. Full of youthful integrity, I laughed down the line at my agents and told them that this was really not the sort of thing that I did. Then they told me how much had been offered and I asked what date the event was on.

I remember joking around when they asked whether I had a "rider" request. I asked for a copy of the national railway timetable, six soft-boiled quail's eggs and a can of Coke pre-opened three days earlier. I arrived at my trailer to find everything as requested.

It was craziness – the money being spent at this shindig could have financed two series of Fool Britannia (my new series, airs next Saturday at 7.30pm on ITV – plug, plug). Next door to my trailer I could hear Kid Creole and all his Coconuts getting ready for their performance, and the girl group All Saints popped in to say hello.

This week, with school bills looming, I accepted a prestigious gig to host the Body Shop Awards in Birmingham. I was told the evening was disco themed and so I set off for Brum in black flares, platform boots, a vivid purple shirt, a tight Afro wig and a huge pair of Elton John spectacles that had the word "c-O-O-l" on them.

What should have been an hour's drive up the motorway from home took three-and-a-half as all of mid-England ground to yet another traffic standstill. I tried to ignore my new neighbours in the traffic jam as they hooted with laughter at my outfit, but three-and-a-half hours is a long time.

I got to the event just in time and was soon being introduced on stage. As I walked through the middle of a ballroom packed with well-oiled gentlemen in black-tie, I realised that I might have misread the dress code. By the time I got to the stage, I was certain of this. I decided to plough on regardless, as I had rather a good series of jokes about pomegranate shampoo and the strong smell that smothered every town the Body Shop sets up in. It was about three minutes in that I realised something was amiss. It turned out that I was talking to a crowd there for the Body Shop Magazine Awards – that's body shop as in panel beating and general automotive restoration … very much not a personal hygiene bunch.

I fought on and tried to instigate damage limitation. It actually went quite well … until it finished and I found myself outside with no sign of my car. It had been towed, and I was forced to trudge through Birmingham dressed like a corpulent John Travolta, while the passing Brummies hurled abuse at me from their kit-cars.

Nobody said that showbusiness was easy, but things can only get better.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Magaluf remains a popular party destination for British holidaymakers, despite a growing reputation for street violence in recent years.  

What happens in Shagaluf no longer stays there

Ellen E Jones
Simon Laird (left) and Sister Simon Laird, featured in the BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets  

Estates of the nation: Let's hear it for the man in the street

Simmy Richman
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?