EDINBURGH Festival favourite and grumpy old man Arthur Smith is appearing at Solihull’s first ever comedy festival Lolihull.
Multi-talented Smith, who describes his act as a ‘melange of stand-up, poetry, with a tiny bit of singing,’ said he was “all in favour” of local comedy festivals such as Lolihull, with a raft of towns, cities and even villages now hosting their own.
“Edinburgh is the mother of all these things. There is a ludicrous number of festivals now though,” he says. “I have pretty much had a festival in my own house.”
After three decades playing Edinburgh Festival, Smith is ready for almost anything a gig could throw at him, well, except an insect with a taste for stardom.
“In Edinburgh, I was upstaged by a butterfly last September.
“I was singing Leonard Cohen, and I saw people laughing at points I wasn’t expecting them to.
“Then I saw this butterfly poncing around me. I realised I couldn’t compete. I ended up doing the second half of my act as a double act.
“That’s the beauty of live performance. You just have to go with it.”
Smith famously appeared on BBC’s popular Grumpy Old Men series, moaning about all of life’s little irritations.
“The programme hit a little zeitgeist. It was a turning point, in the new world of the internet and mobile phones. That’s the nature of comedy, to complain about the world.
“[A comic] would never do so well if they tell you how happy they are, how good they’re doing.
“We British like to complain, grumble. It’s one of our fortes.”Smith recently released his memoirs, My Name is Daphne Fairfax, named after his opening line at hundreds of gigs: ‘My name is Arthur Smith, unless there’s anybody here from the Streatham tax office. In which case, I’m Daphne Fairfax.’
But the funnyman said it had been a bitter-sweet experience.
“I enjoyed writing it. But you have to go over things you have forgotten about, or things you have chosen not to think about.
“Writing about the death of my father was a bit like reliving it, but it was quite therapeutic as well. We’re all hopeless creatures trying to find ourselves.”
Arthur Smith is at Solihull Arts Complex on April 10.