“I played bedrooms, kitchens and living rooms, “ he told me when we met in Soho last week. “Students, lawyers, Kate Moss. It’s getting harder to make a living out of comedy. Especially because I say No a lot of the time. I must start saying Yes.”
“Lewis Schaffer told me I should ask you about the Maldives,” I told him.
“Ah,” said Trevor. “So I got this e-mail from someone saying I’m organising Harvard University’s Arts Festival and I want to offer you this gig in the Maldive Islands and a deal was struck via the management agency I had at the time and it turned out the organisation of the Arts Festival was part of the students’ course work.
“I was flown out First Class and was going to be paid an extraordinary amount of money but, to this day, I don’t know what actually happened.
“I am pretty certain there was no Harvard University Arts Festival. If there was, I certainly wasn’t booked to appear in it. However, I and a support act who is now no longer a comedian – he’s a pop star, but I can’t say his name – were flown out to the Maldives. And he walked away with £20,000 and I left with no money. I had to pay £7,000 just to get off the island because the bill was unpaid.”
“The bill for the air fare?” I asked.
“No,” explained Trevor, “the bill for the honeymoon chalets that we were put up in. Which was a bit weird. The woman who took us out there seemed to have some kind of Munchausen Syndrome and would vomit blood. It was a long story that ended nearly ten months later with me watching her being bundled into the back of a police car outside my South London flat.”
“She stalked you?” I asked.
“It’s not clear what her aim was,” said Trevor. “She sold her story to the newspapers that she was pregnant with Pete Doherty’s baby and, when asked how she met Pete Doherty, she said it was when Pete Doherty was ice-skating with Russell Brand and Trevor Lock – I’ve never been ice-skating. I don’t know what her motivation was. She appeared not to even really know who I was but claimed I was her boyfriend.”
“She’d flown you over to the Maldives?”
“Yes. She wasn’t interested in me sexually. She wasn’t a groupie. She stole a little bit of money from me, but that wasn’t the motivation, because she appeared to have a lot of money. But then she also appeared to be incredibly ill – vomiting blood. I believed all her stories for a while and was visiting her in hospital and then I started to massively mistrust her and just became fascinated trying to work out what the hell was going on.”
“There is an Edinburgh Fringe show in this, surely?” I suggested.
“But I’m not interested in talking about myself,” said Trevor. “I don’t do that on stage. I don’t tell anecdotes from my life and, tragically, that’s what people are mainly interested in about anybody.”
“People are interested in the real people who are Big Names,” I said, “and your profile is rising.”
“Last month, at the Hull Comedy Festival,” said Trevor, “three people came to my show by mistake, expecting to see Sean Lock. They ended up seeing me and Sean Hughes. So, in a sense, they did end up seeing Sean Lock by combining Sean Hughes and Trevor Lock.”
Tonight, tomorrow and Wednesday in London, Trevor is performing for the last time his 2013 Edinburgh show Nude Echo – A One Man Alphabet.
“Does the title Nude Echo mean anything?” I asked.
“No, I don’t think so.”
“So you can’t justify the title?”
“I never justify anything,” replied Trevor. “There’s no need to. This is the beauty about life: nothing needs to be justified. It’s the mistake everyone makes. I think that’s one problem in going to school: you’re indoctrinated that you need to justify everything you do – You don’t. Nobody needs to justify anything.”
“So has your Nude Echo show got a point?”
“It has no point and possibly that is the point.”
“Does it build to a climactic pointlessness?”
“And, after these last three Nude Echo shows, what are you doing?”
“I’m hoping to do a book of the show,” said Trevor. “Some jokes, some poems and some pictures. And then I’ll start preparing next year’s Edinburgh Fringe show and the idea now is that each of my shows will become a book.”
“I think that makes more sense, but there’s been rumours I might be able to get a proper publisher.”
“What sort of rumours?”
“Well, I was offered a book deal but I turned it down.”
“What was the book about?”
“About me. And I don’t like doing stuff about me. Maybe this is the tragedy of my career, if you can call it that… People tend to find me interesting but I don’t do anything about me in my comedy. I do made-up stuff in my shows; there’s very little personal stuff.”
“Why did they want to do a book about you?” I asked. “Was there an angle?”
“There was an angle, yes,” said Trevor. “Certain things happened and I would have done the book if I could have fictionalised it or done it under a pseudonym.”
“You could still pseudonym it,” I suggested.
“I could and it may well happen,”
“But a publisher approached you,” I asked, “rather than you approached them?”
“I used to live in South America and I have lots of interesting stories about South America.”
“Where were you in South America?”
“Ah,” I said. “I once met a man in the bar of the Sheraton in Lima. He told me he was in the import/export business.”
“That’s what I used to be in.”
“He wouldn’t expand on it,” I said.
“Neither would I,” said Trevor.
“You should write a book about South America,” I suggested, “and do an Edinburgh Fringe comedy show about the Maldives.”
“I don’t like talking about myself.”
“But, in comedy,” I said, “no-one knows what’s true and what’s not true. If you tell the truth, people think you’ve made it up because the truth is usually too OTT to be believable… and, if you make something up, they believe it’s true because you’ve written it in an acceptably believable way.
“If there’s any legal comeback, you just say: I’m a comedian. I tell lies on stage for a living to get laughs and make money. That is what a comedian does. You don’t have to prove in court that you are innocent. They have to prove you are guilty.”
“In England, under English law,” said Trevor. “Not under Scottish law. Under Scottish law, you’re in a lot of trouble if you don’t have the right lawyer.”
“The rule-of-thumb,” I said, “is to never do anything dodgy in Edinburgh.”
“That’s the thing,” said Trevor. “I did absolutely nothing dodgy in Edinburgh and unfortunately had the wrong lawyer.”
“I think we should leave it there,” I said. “Always leave them wanting more.”
Except, Trevor then told me he had a feature film released this year in South America.
“A feature film?” I asked.
“I played a small part as Mr Terrier,” he told me.
Como Quien No Quiere La Cosa (aka That Thing You Love) was shot in 2009 but only released this year and, according to its synopsis, is about “the evil doings of a bitter woman, who lives in a lighthouse”. It is a second feature film by Peruvian director Alvaro Velarde who says: “It’s a pretty delirious film, unrealistic… Fate plays no favourites… it has a stylised narrative level. It is not realistic… it is more expressionist.”