We met at a Pret a Manger in London’s Soho.
“What are you plugging?” I asked. “Harry Hill?”
“Yup,” said Rich Rose.
“Shall we get the plug out of the way?” asked Gareth Ellis.
“OK,” I said.
So Harry Hill is appearing in Ellis & Rose’s Brainwash Club evening at the Backyard Comedy Club in London’s Bethnal Green this coming Wednesday. The bill also includes the Birthday Girls, James Hamilton, Lipstick & Wax, Tim Renkow and Mr Susie… And Ellis and Rose.
“He’s been on before, hasn’t he?” I asked. “Harry Hill.”
“Yeah,” said Gareth Ellis, “in February.”
“I think I was there,” I said. “I have a shit memory.”
“Yeah,” said Rich Rose, “you drew on your knee.”
“I drew on my knee?” I asked.
“Yeah,” said Rich. “We got you up on stage and everyone drew on their knees during the interval.”
“Were you heavily sedated?” Gareth asked me.
“We threw felt-tip pens into the audience,” Rich reminded me.
“No,” I said. “I don’t remember any of that at all. This Pret a Manger closes in ten minutes. Give me two bizarre anecdotes and that’s the blog done and you can piss off.”
“The other day,” Gareth said, “John Kearns told me that I should rock up for this chat with you in a car made of cake.”
“Rock up?” I asked. “Is that what the kids on the street are saying nowadays?”
“Yes,” said Gareth. “Do you want an anecdote or not?”
“I have to insert myself,” I explained, “otherwise people might think I just slavishly copy down other people’s lines.”
“You didn’t take issue,” Gareth pointed out, “with having a car made of cake. Only with ‘rock up’. What does that say about you?”
“It says,” I replied, “that I am a man who cares about words but not about you.”
“…or content,” suggested Rich.
“…or cake,” said Gareth.
“I have never met John Kearns,” I said. “I seem to have met everyone who ever went to university with him, but never him.”
“So?” Rich asked.
“Nice hair,” I told Gareth.
“I think he looks like a half pint of Guinness,” said Rich.
“Do you want some style advice?” Gareth asked me.
“Get a beret.”
“Are you doing the Edinburgh Fringe next year?” I asked.
“Yeah,” Gareth replied.
“And next year,” Rich added, “we have a producer and director for the first time. Can we talk about our…”
“No,” I said. “This Pret a Manger closes in ten minutes.”
“…about what has changed,” Gareth completed.
“We’ve got new suits,” explained Rich.
“Why?” I asked.
“Most people,” said Gareth, “don’t even get changed when they do their shows. They wear the clothes they have on the street. We dress up. I know how to tie a bow tie. Not a real one, but I know how to put on a clip-on. We have to be careful when we chat to you, because you edit like a bitch.”
“A bitch?” I asked.
“A sly little dog,” said Gareth.
“You take out any nuance so that it’s sensationalist…” said Rich.
“…and make us seem like actual idiots,” said Gareth.
“Actual idiots?” I asked.
“Actual,” said Gareth.
“The new suits,” explained Rich, “were because we thought we needed an overhaul.”
“So,” I said, “given the choice of writing a new script or buying new suits, you chose the suits.”
“We’re working on it,” said Gareth.
“And, to be fair,” said Rich, “the dynamic on stage has changed. It used to be kind of aggressive and shouty. Now it’s a bit more conversational and two people having fun.”
“I think it’s less stressful to watch,” said Gareth.
“When you die,” Rich told me, “we are going to carry on your blog by ghost-writing it.”
“Just stereotypical John Fleming blog posts,” said Gareth. “so one will be Lewis Schaffer repeating his name for a whole blog – or photos of him with grey hair and black hair. It’ll be: Lewis Schaffer, Lewis Schaffer…”
“And then,” said Rich, “we will do one of your diary extracts from 1927 in which you had a dream…”
“…about how it reminded you of your mother,” suggested Gareth. “And then we’ll get someone from Canada to write to us and put that in.”
“And,” enthused Rich, “we’ll get Kate Copstick to say something controversial.”
“Try stopping her,” I said.