NOT much has been heard of Charlie Chuck since he was part of Vic & Bob’s comedy circus in the mid-90s but he’s still “plodding on” - including Paul McCartney’s birthday parties. SIMON WILSON spoke to him.
ACCORDING to Justin ‘Phoenix Nights’ Moorhouse, Charlie Chuck couldn’t do Just The Tonic’s Millennium Eve show because he’d had a heart attack.
“Ah, bloody hell. What it was, was I’d done too much ‘cus... that’s going back seven year innit? I know who passed that on, it were a comedian down south or summat. Yeah.”
So you didn’t have a heart attack?
“Did I ‘eck. I played piano in Montreal other year, upside down on a piano,” adds the 62-year-old as if to illustrate his physical health.
“But yeah, I’m all right.”
All right enough to wreck his drum kit every night on a tour with Frank Sidebottom, which comes to the Rescue Rooms next week.
It’s his party piece, literally - giving the snares and toms a good hiding every time Paul McCartney has a birthday bash.
“I’ve done that about four or five times. I’ve done Christmas shows as well. I wreck the drums, I do the business. It was great. Mary McCartney (Macca’s daughter) rung me up and asked if I’d do a show for their dad who’d seen me on the James Whale show. It was at Peas-marsh, his farm (in East Sussex). There were people like Jeff Beck there.
“The last one I did was in Brighton at The Dome where I met his new wife. Well, his wife’s gone now, like...
“I remember pulling up in my car to ask someone where The Dome was and I swear on my life it was Paul McCartney.”
Walking down the street?
“Walking down the street, I could not believe it. It’s gospel truth.”
Have you any memorabilia from those gigs?
“I’ve got photographs, yes, and I could put them on my website but I respect how he is. His privacy. And I’m not a bighead.”
The wild-haired Chuck rose to fame as Uncle Peter on Vic & Bob’s The Smell Of Reeves & Mortimer, senselessly barking “Donkeh!” and “Woof! Bark! Donkeh!” to surreal comic effect.
He’s not spoken to them for years.
“They did great for me. I can’t knock that. I paid me house of off. But that’s along while ago. I had more to do with Johnny Vegas and Mackenzie Crook. I toured with Mackenzie for about two years when he was Charlie Cheese.”
This was before his role as Gareth in The Office.
“His act wasn’t the best act in the world. It was really corny. But he’s cracked it hasn’t he?”
Indeed, after The Office Crooke has been in all three Pirates Of The Caribbean movies.
“It’s the same with Johnny Vegas. You don’t know who’s going to make it big,” says Chuck.
“John Thomson owes me a fiver from when he was skint. I slummed it with him at Edinburgh before the Steve Coogan days.”
While past collaborators have gone on to big or small screen success, Chuck has remained a cult draw. With a few exceptions.
“I’ve been doing things. I’m playing Dr Frankenstein on Nickelodeon next month. I did Comic Cuts for ITV2. And there’s talk of doing a pilot for BBC3, the Medieval Chronicles of Charlie Chuck.
“So I’m always working.”
TV ads for Double Decker and Twiglets have kept his bank account buoyed up as well.
“£18,000 for one day’s filming,” he says of the former.
Chuck, real name David Kear, started out as a drummer, playing with, among others, the Small Faces.
“I toured with them when it was Steve Marriott (in the line-up). I toured with Ginger Baker’s Airforce. And I was on with Bill Haley and The Comets in Frankfurt in 1962.”
He says: “I’m happy what I do. I also work with people with disabilities. I teach music and drama. I took them to Edinburgh in 2004 and I’m doing the West End with them. It’s a singsong type thing. But there’s an element of comedy. It’s costing £30,000 per night.”
He’s also an aromatherapist and is training as a counselor.
“That’s the other side of me,” he says before adding with a laugh.
“People think I’m just nuts.”
Charlie Chuck appears with Frank Sidebottom at the Rescue Rooms on Tuesday September 23. Tickets are a very specific £14.94 on 0871 310 0000.
VIDEO: Charlie Chuck’s Double Decker advert
VIDEO: Charlie Chuck on The Smell Of Reeves & Mortimer