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Welcome to the bonkers world of Michael Smiley
DARA O’Briain’s mum says he can’t play with us, so we don’t play with him. He’s a big lad and he can’t climb over fences like the rest of us when we go apple scrumping.”
Comedy club date – stand-up Michael Smiley will be letting punters into his crazy world
It’s relatively early on a Tuesday morning and I’ve just been given a glimpse into the bonkers world of Michael Smiley – who will be at 3 Flying Ducks Comedy Club in Old Leigh next Thursday.
He’s just stubbed his toe while on his third cup of coffee and a gag about living on a comedy set has somehow developed into a whole tangent on “Comedy Valley”, where he’s decided he lives.
“I live on a big comedy set,” he babbles. “Every time I go to the shops in my car the doors fall off and I carry a plank of wood everywhere I go and have bright ginger hair.”
Seeing as this is the man on who Simon Pegg based permenantly wired, techno raving cycle courier Tyres in his hit TV series Spaced, perhaps it’s unsuprising he’s rather charmingly a bit off the wall.
“We lived together – myself, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost,” he explains, coming back to earth for a moment. “We shared a flat in the Nineties. Simon and Jess (Hynes) were writing Spaced, and Tim based this character on me. Then I got cast.”
Like Tyres – who the other characters in the series try and stop “going disco” when repetitive noises like phones ringing and traffic lights bleeping remind him of rave music -– Michael was working as a cycle courier at the time.
“I thought it was a documentary,” he says. “I couldn’t understand why you had to learn lines to play yourself.”
I soon learn trying to stop Michael delving into highly entertaining, but off-kilter worlds of his own invention is as big a challenge as trying to stop Tyres going disco. “You’re not going to believe this,” he says, still enraptured by the idea of Comedy Valley and living in a clown-prop infested house. “I’ve literally just found a whoopie cushion.”
He proves he has indeed found a whoopie cushion by blowing it up and farting it down the phone before adding: “I’m pole dancing in my prop room. When I’m not doing comedy I’m a lap dancer at the local residential home. They call me Mickey Hip-Click.”
Back to Pegg and Frost he merrily slags off his pals: “For a couple of manic depressives they’re probably the funniest people I know.
“Simon cries a lot and Nick’s bowel movements leave a lot to be desired.”
Then, serious for a moment he says: “They pretty much gather people around them who they love working with so it’s like a family feeling. I’d never acted before. I’d been on stage doing stand-up, but never done any acting. When you turn up and know everyone on set it makes it a bit easier.”
Despite his success with comedy, Michael also went on to carve out a serious film and TV acting career.
He will be familiar to many from his current role as Benny “Deadhead” Silver in the BBC drama series Luther. He says: “I loved working on Luther. That was fun, and in Bleak House I loved dressing up like a 19th century cripple.
“It’s nice to have contracts in your life. I do stand-up and that’s complete audience interaction. It’s nice to have your material and create an environment – that’s an art form, the best art form in the world.
“But then a lot of my filming is serious drama as well and that’s great. It gives you variety. I think I’ve got a dramatic face. I’ve been told I have a ‘period face’.”
Michael’s looking forward to his jaunt to Leigh, and 3 Flying Ducks is building up something of a reputation for itself after two sell-out nights for comedians Phil Cornwell and Marcus Birdman.
“I’m going to go into the street and play Knockdown Ginger,” says Michael, as I say bye. “But not with Dara. Then we’re going to go and annoy Jo Brand – it’s all fun and games.”
Michael Smiley, support from Ben Harrington 3 Flying Ducks, The Ship, New Road, Old Leigh.
£8 advance, £10 on door Tickets from the Book Inn, Broadway West, Leigh.