Katy Wheeler speaks to Roy Chubby Brown ahead of this month’s show at Sunderland Empire
His jokes aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but Roy Chubby Brown’s inimitable style has seen him crowned as king of controversial comedy.
Unashamedly lewd and crude, Roy sometimes shocks and often insults, but his humour is one that’s proved popular – he has toured the UK every week of every year for the past 30 years and his DVDs still sell in their tens of thousands.
He’s appeared at the Sunderland Empire countless times over the years and he’ll be returning to his old stomping ground later this month for a one-night show.
As I interviewed the Middlesbrough-born comic he was in the midst of scouring the daily papers from where he draws inspiration for new material to keep his shows fresh.
“The thing about being a comic is that if you sit back on your laurels people will get sick. As much as I possibly can I try to get as many laughs in as little time as possible. ” he explains.
“I get a really mixed audience. I speak to some people who first heard me when they were eight or nine and they say they couldn’t wait until they were 16 so they could come and see me. Then you get the old dears.
“I’ve had some fantastic nights in Sunderland.
“I used to meet up with a lot of the North East comics when I was playing there such as Bobby Knoxall and Bobby Thompson.”
Roy’s latest DVD, Front Page Boobs, sold more than 60,000 copies during the first few weeks of release with a new DVD being filmed in this month for release later in the year.
Though Roy sells well on DVD, he’s managed to carve a career without appearing on TV.
“They won’t have me on TV because of the nature of my material, but the audience in front of you either love or hate you,” he said.
“My style of comedy is different to these new fan-dangled comics. When Young Ones and Monty Python came out they came from Footlights at Cambridge University. Educated people used to laugh at them.
“I’m not like that. I appeal to the wagon driver, the road sweeper. I entertain the working man. I never found the Young Ones funny, it was slapstick and pie in your face comedy. I laugh at clever lines.”
Though Roy, whose real name is Royston Vasey, is constantly gathering inspiration for new jokes, his delivery, multi-coloured suits and flying helmet have become his trademark.
Speaking about the early days of his career, he said: “When I started off in comedy, it was stardom or starvation.
“The only way you learn is in front of an audience, you can’t practice in front of a mirror, it won’t laugh back at you.
“The north of England was a hard training ground because they’ve heard it all before.
“Comedy is completely different now. It’s more Americanised, people are laughing in between the lines and making their own punchlines.
“Ken Dodd is my favourite comedian. I love his one-liners.
“I also like some of the newer comedians like Sarah Millican and Lee Mack.”
Roy’s gigs come with the warning “if easily offended please stay away” though he insists that his brand of rib-tickling is far removed from some newer comedians.
“British comedy is not about being silly, there’s a new fashion for being cruel and hurtful.
“I’m not political, or religious, or homophobic. I just try to make people laugh,”
He added: “I was born on the roughest estate in Middlesbrough and my parents called me Royston. I had to learn how to laugh.”
* Roy Chubby Brown will perform at Sunderland Empire on September 28. Tickets, priced £21, are available from Tel. 0844 871 3022 and online at www.ATGtickets.com/Sunderland.