Thursday 25 August 2016

Carry On Blogging Interview: Craig Deeley

I recently caught up with the wonderful Craig Deeley to talk about stand up comedy, his involvement in some Carry On-related projects and to ask why he's such a big fan of the Carry On team...

First of all, I'd love to hear how you got into comedy in the first place?

I'd always been into comedy and written stuff, such as sketches, as I grew up. At university I had a show on the university radio station which I used to write silly things for, like a stupid handy-hints segment, an 'our tune' spoof, and listeners' problems. I'd never thought of performing stand-up, mainly because I didn't know how to get into it. Then about 10 years ago I saw an advert for a stand-up comedy course at the Midlands Arts Centre in Birmingham. I joined the course, because I was fascinated by what they would teach us. Every week we'd perform a few minutes for the rest of the group, and at the end of the course we did a public performance, which went really well, and so I pursued it.

You are principally a stand up comedian - that always strikes me as an incredibly frightening thing to do! Can you describe what it's like to do?

When it goes well, it's exhilarating, exciting and extremely rewarding. It can be nerve-wracking when you arrive at a venue and have no idea how it's going to go. On the rare occasion that it doesn't go your way on stage, time can seem to stand still; but luckily that doesn't happen often.

How would you describe your style of comedy?

I'd say it's a mix of one-liner jokes and anecdotal observations. Basically me talking about myself!
I see from your Twitter page and our interactions on there that you're fond of a good Carry On! Why do you think these films have endured so long?

There's something so special about (the vast majority of) the Carry Ons. They capture a moment in time that we will never have again. There's also the performance of that wonderful troupe of character actors. Each one of them wonderfully weird on and off-screen.

You played Kenneth Williams on stage in a production of Cleo, Camping, Emmannuelle and Dick. Can you tell me a bit more about that experience?

I was a member of the Crescent Theatre in Birmingham, and when it was announced they were doing the play, I made it my mission to be in it. I'd seen the TV version (Cor Blimey!) and just thought it was a dream role. I'd always been able to do a decent impression of Kenny, and I knew that the director was a massive (obsessive) fan and would go over and above a normal director's remit to make it a true Carry On fan's dream. A very good friend of mine was cast as Barbara Windsor, and the role of Sid was played by a man who had only ever seen one film but looked and suonded a lot like Sid, which is a very tough impression to get right. Although I'm nowhere near as slim as Kenneth, I think I pulled it off with my mannerisms, gestures and a trick of the trade to make my nostrils massive. And we got to spend 2 weeks acting in a cutaway caravan which we came to love and were so distressed when it was destroyed at the end of the run.


A lot of people have been quite critical of that play for the way it depicts some of our comedy heroes. What's your view on this?

It's clear that some artistic licence has been taken with the timeline and certain characters, and although there are elements of truth in it (eg barbara's affair with Sid), it is made clear that it isn't a 100% factual re-telling. If you take it in this way, it's a really enjoyable play.

You also took part in a revival of the classic BBC Radio comedy series, Round The Horne. It's probably my favourite radio series ever - what was it like to be a part of that production? And out of all the characters in Round The Horne, which is your favourite and why?

I think it has to be Julian and Sandy. They got away with so much in the script, and they are played so beautifully by Hugh Paddick and Kenny. The timing, the delivery, everything is just perfect. I was very lucky to bring Kenny back for a performance of Round the Horne which we put on a few years back; just a handful of us standing in front of microphones, but the shows sold out which is testament to just how popular they still are.

Can you tell me what you are working on at the moment and about any future projects?

As well as stand-up gigs, I'm also a member of Foghorn Unscripted: a longform comedy improv group. We're currently working on new show formats to add to our current repertoire, which includes a made-up murder mystery and a made-up Charles Dickens show. I also want to start work on a project I would like to take to Edinburgh next year. I don't want to say exactly what it is, but there's a Carry On connection.


If you could work with any famous comedian (living or dead) who would it be and why?

Victoria Wood, because she was my first comedy influence. Morecambe and Wise. French & Saunders.

Who's your favourite Carry On performer?

I love them all but I would have to say Joan Sims. Her range was incredible.

Finally, I have to ask, what's your all-time favourite Carry On?

It's a toss-up between Camping and Abroad. All the gang together. Love it.

A big thank you to Craig for agreeing to an interview - it was fantabulosa!

You can follow Craig on Twitter here

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and also Facebook

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