Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Interview with Arthur Smith

SOUTH London comic Arthur Smith is bringing an air of mystery and amusement to Balham next month with his unique form of mobile comedy.
The self-elected Night Mayor of Balham will be hosting a secret night walk around his beloved South London neighbourhood.
The event, on Saturday, December 14, will include singing, chat and audience participation. But the rest - well all will be revealed on the night.
What started out as a spontaneous idea in Edinburgh many years ago to fill in time between gigs has become something of a regular occurrence. And they were soon the stuff of legend as Arthur explains.
"When I was doing the Edinburgh Festival in the 1980s I was doing a comedy show at night and was trying to find a way of keeping sober during the day and hit on the idea of a walking tour.
"It was a bit of a parody of a tour and history of the place that gets mangled up - it was all bullshit really as I made up most of it but they were a lot of fun."
The tours were so successful he began to do them during the evenings as well.
"Sometimes they didn't start until about 2am, after a gig, when everyone was pissed and I used to get about 200 people which obviously had the potential for a riot.
"It meant they frequently ended in chaos, had elements of nudity and I got arrested at least once," he chuckles.
"For example I used to pay people to climb up lamp posts and sing Scotland The Brave and I ended up in A&E one time.
"The night I got arrested for breach of the peace it involved (comedian) Malcolm Hardee who stripped off and did an impression of General De Gaulle.
"I was fined £100 but have never been asked for the money so technically I am still a wanted man," he laughs.
"There was one occasion when we had about 50 coppers descend on us and we all had to scatter in the wind - it was pandemonium!"
These days although the walks may be less raucous they are nonetheless a chance to see Arthur at his comedic best.
"I was born in Bermondsey and have lived in South London all my life. I couldn't live in north London. South London is much more real.
"I'm slowly moving around the South Circular and now live in Balham and I like the idea that it has its own catchphrase as Balham - Gateway to the South.
"I've lived here since the 1980s so know it really well so it's a chance to introduce others to the delights of the area.
"It basically involves me taking a group of people and leading them on a merry dance around Balham.
"I take them to my favourite places and hidden gems - there is no theatrical set that compares with the outside.
"Sometimes you have to be a bit careful because if you crowd around a building the security guards get a bit nervous but they can have a sense of humour.
"I will quite likely improvise if I come across people I like the look of - I tend to surround them and talk about them, not in an offensive way of course, but just chat really.
"I'm older now and less foolish so this one will be much more genteel," he chuckles. "But it will still be a bit of a laugh and a bit more out there than a children's tea party!"
But he admits he doesn't as yet have a definitive plan for the evening.
"I don't know yet where we will be going exactly," he muses. "I know roughly where we are going to go - but there is always an element of surprise with a set piece at the end.
"I will need to have a couple of things set up along the way so I'd better get cracking on it!"

Visit http://geckosuperstar.co.uk/stand-up-and-walk-arthur-smith/ to buy tickets and for starting point.

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