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Phill Jupitus

October 2011

Phill Jupitus is the only original member of the Never Mind The Buzzcocks team. For 16 years he’s sat on the panel as team captain, out-lasting hosts Mark Lamarr and Simon Amstell, and opposing team captains such as Sean Hughes and Bill Bailey.
But that’s not all he does.
Nearly 30 years ago he quit the JobCentre (where he worked) and became a ranting poet, quickly rising to prominence supporting the likes of The Style Council, The Housemartins, The Who and Madness.
He has been a radio presenter, firstly with BBC Greater London Radio, latterly with 6Music. He regularly appears on QI and Radio 4’s News Quiz.
Two years ago he starred as Edna Turnblad in the West End production of Hairspray and has since played King Arthur in the UK and Irish tour of Spamalot. Then there’s the book, Good Morning Nantwich – Adventures In Breakfast Radio.
But he’s just returned to his first love, stand-up comedy, after a ten-year break.
“It was when I wrote the book that I realised I shouldn’t have quit stand-up,” he says.
“It made me think about why I’d gone into radio. That was because I absolutely adore radio. But I looked at the disadvantages as well and that made me think about how much I missed doing stand-up.
“It’s an incredible skill and very useful to have in your tool kit. But you do have to keep match fit. It’s like being a footballer.”
Does he feel like he’s missed out on the comedy boom, where comedians these days regularly play UK arenas?
“I don’t want to do the arenas. The thing I love about stand-up is the intimacy. If you go beyond 1,000 people in a room you’re losing that. I’m with Stewart Lee. He recorded his live DVD at The Stand in Glasgow and I completely see why.”
He adds: “If you are bantering with the audience in an arena, those in rows A to M can hear what’s going on but everyone else in the room is kind of ‘what!?’ I think the person who has cracked playing arenas is Lee Evans. I know I couldn’t do it.
“I did Wembley Arena once for Eddie Izzard’s Amnesty gig and I had a great time but it’s very weird seeing a laugh roll up the room. It’s like doing a gig to the sea.”
The other eureka moment that promoted his return to stand-up was a call from one of Britain’s biggest comedy names.
“Eddie Izzard phoned me up saying ‘I hear you’ve quit stand-up’. I said ‘I haven’t done it in ten years but I haven’t quit’. And he said ‘well it sounds like you’ve quit to me.’ He kind of berated me for not doing it. That in tandem with thinking I’d missed it encouraged me to do it again.”
Jupitus dived in feet first with a run at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. He brings the same show to the Glee Club on Sunday.
“I refer to a couple of jokes I used to do to show how things have moved on. For example, I did material about my kids, when they were six. And they’re both at university now.”
One is studying anthropology in Tokyo, the other is at drama school.
“The youngest is fascinated by performance and stand-up. I think it’s wonderful that she’s thinking about it but obviously there’s trepidation because I don’t want her to be judged by her father in any way. I said ‘do it but changing your name might be an idea’. If she does stand-up I’d suggest she take her mum’s name.”
Which is McIntyre.
“(Laughs) Beautifully done.”
Aside from the comedy, Jupitus also performs in a couple of bands.
“I know Neil Innes and when the Bonzo Dog Doo Da Band did a one-off 40th anniversary show at the Astoria and with Viv (Stanshall) being dead there was a huge space to be filled. So it was filled by Stephen Fry, Paul Merton, Ade Edmondson and me. We all took it in turns.
“Then the guy that put the Astoria gig on said he’d got interest in there being an anniversary tour. Me and Ade were the only ones free to do the whole tour. So we got to play at being Viv Stanshall for two weeks.”
Edmondson continues to play with his band the Bad Shepherds.
“They’re amazing,” says Jupitus. “There is a very large frustrated musician living in Mr Edmondson and that beast is now being more than fed by the Bad Shepherds.”
So is there a frustrated musician living inside of him?
“Funnily enough I’m in a band with Ade, called The Idiot B*stard Band. We play our favourite comedy songs by Flight of the Conchords, The Bonzos, They Might Be Giants, John Hegley...
“It’s me, Neil Innes, Ade and Raw Sex, who were Roland Rivron and Simon Brint, but Simon very sadly committed suicide last year. So the whole thing is on hold while we cope with that – he was such a driving force. We were going to do something next year but we keep having dinners wondering ‘should we even do anything?’ But maybe next year. Who knows?”
For now he’s got the stand-up tour to finish, in between recording episodes of the current series of Never Mind The Buzzcocks.
After Simon Amstell quit as host at the end of the last series, it continues to have guest hosts. So far the likes of Jack Dee and David Hasselhoff have kept Jupitus and opposing team captain Noel Fielding in order. Or tried to.
“I don’t know if they are even thinking of having a permanent host again,” says Jupitus.
“Me and Noel would like Wogan to do it if we were going to have anyone full-time because he treats it like a real quiz and he makes you behave yourself. Having guest hosts is a bit like having a substitute teacher. And that’s what I like about Buzzcocks at the minute. It’s the unpredictability of the guest host.”

Phill Jupitus is at the Glee Club on Sunday October 16 2011 from 7.30pm. Tickets are £15 and £10, call 0871 472 0400 or go to

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