There are times when you have a career in comedy that you find yourself in a more than surreal situation. Last night at the Scip Mylo comedy festival was one of these when I found myself sharing a green room with Paul Daniels and Debbie McGhee. Paul has never really been off the circuit (as he told me last night) and he was doing a show everyday at the Edinburgh festival so I suppose its not that unusual for him to be in the same green room as a comedian, especially not at a mini comedy event. However, this didn’t stop it being completely mad. The only time I’ve ever bumped into him before was when, very drunk, I asked him at the Chortle awards if he always carries a pack of cards with him and he replied ‘yes’ did a quick trick and then vanished into the crowd. I was more than a little amazed.
I can’t say I was ever a huge Paul Daniels fan. Sure I used to watch the funny little man on the telly with my parents and was always impressed by the magic, but when he announced back in 1997 that he’d leave the country if Labour got in I was immediately against him. Its so awful how someone’s politics can entirely determine how you view them, but then again the only other person that said that was Phil Collins and he’s a proper twat so it seemed fair. In retrospect of course, Tony Blair was the biggest twat of them all and in some ways Paul’s sentiment was correct though I doubt it was said for the right reasons. So while I liked the PD, it was not a lot.
But as he tottered into the green room last night with a very glamourous Debbie behind him, I couldn’t help but do the stereotyped ‘its the man from the telly’ face at him. To his credit he dispelled this quickly by being warm, friendly and a truly lovely person. He never stopped being on stage and I can only presume he’s like that all the time. Constant quick gags, odd little facts such as Suduko coming from Switzerland and that ‘old west action’ is an anagram of Clint Eastwood, combined with tales of the magic circuit and the occasional small close hand trick using whatever was around. I felt a bit like the small 6 year old watching him on the sofa with my parents again, only he was right there. I told him I hadn’t done my show since Edinburgh and he told me to tell the audience it was an improv show so I could make it up. Brilliant. Eventually talking to him was so much of a mini show I had to go and hide elsewhere to get my show into my head. I wondered how Debbie coped with that constantly and noticed that while me and Paul had been bantering she’d very quietly been eating a bounty bar and doing her Sudoku. That’s how. By occasionally saying ‘yes Paul’ and switching off. The plight of a performer’s partner. I said cheerio and waved him and Debbie goodbye as he stuck various things into his suitcase of magic and went and did my far less exciting show next door to an audience of 11 nice people having felt like I’d just met a legend of entertainment. Not that’s magic.