GREG LAMBERT speaks to controversial stand-up comic ROY ‘CHUBBY’ BROWN
“How’s the weather in Morecambe?” asks the raspy and gentle, unmistakably North East voice on the other end of the phone.
Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown’s act isn’t exactly known for its pleasantries. But in conversation, the crude comic is politeness personified.
Royston Vasey, the 68-year-old father-of-seven behind Britain’s most notorious stand-up star, says he is very different from his sweary stage persona.
“My kids don’t F and blind, we don’t have any of that in my house,” he says.
He’s also been reading a book about Scott Joplin, the ragtime composer who wrote ‘The Entertainer’. As a self-taught drummer and pianist, Brown is fascinated by Joplin’s life, speaking with great passion and admiration for how the African-American “fought racial discrimination”.
Yet Chubby himself has been accused of racism in his act. He defends himself, saying political correctness is the problem.
“We can call Australians Aussies and Turkish people Turks, but we can’t call Pakistanis (a short version of their name)?
“I read a story about a woman in Southampton who put a golliwog in her window and was accused of being racist. It’s ridiculous.
“Why don’t we just tell jokes about dogs? They can’t answer back.”
Little is off limits for Brown’s brand of humour. Jokes about Michael Jackson and Jimmy Savile are par for the course. Near the knuckle for sure, but his audiences lap it up.
“I was a clean comedian for years, getting paid £40 a show.
“Then one night I was supporting Bernard Manning in Stoke-on-Trent. I came off and the manager said: ‘You’re funny, but you’re too much like Jimmy Cricket. You’re too daft.’ I went home and had a rethink.”
The rest is history. Brown’s DVDs, many with titles too blue for a family newspaper, regularly sell in their millions. And while far too lewd for television, his shows still play to packed crowds all over Europe.
Brown is just thankful he’s still alive to enjoy his success. Eleven years ago he was struck down by throat cancer.
“I’ve already beaten what the doctors said I’d have left of my life. I asked my doctor in 2002 ‘how long have I got?’ They said I had a 50-50 chance of survival. I’d just got married, had a little boy. I just collapsed in the doctor’s office. The nurses had to lift me off the floor.
“The doctors had to laser half my throat out and I’m still here today. Yet I never had a cigarette in my life. I reckon it was from working the clubs for years. Passive smoking.”
Living on borrowed time as he is, Brown has no intention of retiring.
“It costs me £5,000 to put my show on. I don’t make a penny. I love it.
“If you are easily offended, stay away. We have a laugh amongst ourselves and then we go home. We shut the doors and have a laugh. I think I’m a voice for the working man.
“Most of my audience is wagon drivers, road sweepers, dustmen. Every day people who call a spade a spade.
“I have a friend who lives in Thailand. They have no law and order. It’s run by gangs. People walk into a shop and shoot you if you oppose them.
“My act isn’t violent. It’s just a bit of fun. If people take offence they are being stupid.”
Tickets to see Chubby Brown at the Grand Theatre in Lancaster this Friday night are available by calling 01524 64695 or visit the box office on St Leonardgate.