The British comedian Sean Lock died of cancer on Monday, aged 58. I remember him in the 1990s as highly intelligent, a very very funny stand-up and, most of all, a kind man unspoilt by any discernible ego. I don’t think he changed when he became successful.
Here, Australian performer Matthew Hardy pays tribute to Sean…
Rising up the London stand-up comedy club ladder in 1993, I’d started to get paid gigs (after 12 months of poverty-stricken gradual improvement), many of which were ‘Door Splits’ (meaning the Promoter splits the door-take equally with the comedians).
I’d been living in Welwyn Garden City, way too far out of London (grateful though I was for anywhere at all, having landed from Australia without a clue) and needed a room closer to the city, quickly.
I ended up staying with the most outrageous individual I’ve ever known (who became a great mate, the comedian Malcolm Hardee, pictured above in the middle, but that’s a whole other story) and that opportunity came about because I’d been telling anyone who’d listen within the comedy community (I didn’t know anyone else) that I was desperately lacking in both money and a place to live.
After an early paid Door Split gig at a well-attended club I won’t name, another act (who I met for the first time that night) named Sean Lock, offered me a lift to Kings Cross station (where most changeover train routes threaded through: trains I couldn’t afford tickets for, so I’d be nervously watching out for inspectors the whole way in and back) and, having delivered a good show, I spoke excitedly to him about how awesome it was to be have been paid £20.
“TWENTY POUNDS!” Sean said, loudly and incredulously.
“Yes”, I said, “I’ve been doing open-spots (free 5 minute trials) for a year now and it’s great to have gotten good enough to get paid”.
“You told the Promoter you were skint and needed somewhere to stay, didn’t you?” Sean said.
“Yeah – and they said they’d try to help me out if they could,” I replied, enthusiastically.
“Help you out?” he said. “The rest of us got £120 pounds each!”
I’d been lonely and thought I was about to cry, at which point Sean pulled over, took £50 out of his wallet and shoved it in my hand.
“Now we’ve both been paid the same,” he said, with a smile.
And then, “You’re not in the outback anymore, cobber. Keep your mouth shut and your eyes open. And, by the way, I loved your ‘Windy Day’ routine”.
He dropped me off and I recall this all concisely because I was keeping a daily diary back then.
People remember kindness.
People won’t forget Sean Lock.