Notebook: The joker turns thief

Share
Related Topics
BARRY CRYER, it must be said, doesn't look very much like Robert Maxwell. Nevertheless, this is the man who is set to take the role of the sunken Captain for a try-out performance of Maxwell: The Musical next month before an invited audience. Cryer is unperturbed by the dissimilarities: 'I shall be wearing a black wig and a fat suit.' And the voice is rather good.

The would-be large mogul is not building too much on the possibility of the role in a run, but he enjoys performing as much as the script, gag and joke-writing which have been his day job for the last 30 years or so. He is just back from Edinburgh, where he has been giving his one-man show, recording I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, Humphrey Lyttelton's well-known antidote to BBC Radio 4 quiz shows, and appearing with his friend and fellow panellist, Willie Rushton, in their acclaimed bit of nonsense, Two Old Farts In The Night.

He has written for Frankie Howerd, Morecambe and Wise, Tommy Cooper, Jack Benny, Les Dawson. When he was being introduced at a dinner recently, they read out these sort of credits and somebody in the audience shouted: 'But they're all dead]' So he likes to stress that he is now working with the likes of Jimmy Mulville, and that Mark Thomas, another feted cabaret comic, is a fan, even if for Cryer and Rushton 'alternative' means that they don't play golf.

Still, he does believe jokes might be on their way back, after a long spell of being comically incorrect. He has spent much of this year taking his one-man show, a mix of joke and anecdote, round the arts centre circuit, to places like Taunton, Frome and Oldham. It is a throwback to his false start as a stand-up comic on the old Number Three circuit, at the Regent, Rotherham and the Royal, Bilston. Have the audiences changed? 'They're kinder to an old man.' Are today's performers better? 'Arthur Askey gave me the best definition. He said every generation was the same: a few brilliant people and a load of crap.'

Barry Cryer doesn't even look very much like Barry Cryer: people continually think he is Barry Took, Barry Humphries, or Bob Cryer, the Labour MP. Cryer, unperturbed, says he regrets that he lost his career as an entertainer to writing, and that he's now at an age - 58 - to frighten himself, 'to be pushed in at the deep end'. When I say this will give me an opportunity to make some laboured joke about Maxwell, he smiles kindly.

(Photograph omitted)

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst - Bristol

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Russell Brand joins residents and supporters from the New Era housing estate in East London as they deliver a petition to 10 Downing Street  

Without Russell Brand's help, my family and countless others would have been evicted from our homes this Christmas

Lindsey Garrett
Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s dictator, and the subject of the spoof Sony film  

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Joan Smith
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick