Bill Bailey talks larking about ahead of Arena Birmingham show
Described by The Evening Standard as “an unbridled joy,” by Chortle as “a selection pack of comedy treats” and by London is Funny as “another superb show from our foremost comedy rock goblin,” Bill Bailey is back with his latest show, Larks In Transit.
The funnyman’s tour will arrive at Arena Birmingham on Thursday, May 23 and an entertaining evening is in store.
The tour began its life in 2016, when Bailey decided to write the follow-up to Limboland. It was initially performed in Australia and New Zealand but has changed considerably since those early days.
“I tour quite a lot in the UK and in New Zealand and Australia, and the show sort of rolls along and changing as it goes and eventually morphs into another show. There’s no sort of point where I say: “I’ve stopped doing this show and now it’s this show”. It just mutates into another. The show I was touring in Australia and New Zealand as Larks in Transit was completely different to the one I’m doing now.
“I came up with the name while I was in Australia, and thought, I really like this. But since then and over the last year, I’ve written a lot more stuff, incorporated a lot more stories and written a lot more music, so the show is completely unrecognisable from that one.
“There’s all manner of stories I want to tell and some make it into the show and some don’t. It’s at that stage, which I like, it’s actually my favourite time in a show’s life – it’s still mouldable, mutable, I don’t quite know where it will go.
“Sometimes I’ve told a story which leads to another story, which prompts another memory, and I’ve come to it in a roundabout way. It’s much more of an account, stories which try to illustrate some point of my life, where comedy has taken me over the years.”
Though Bailey’s career has taken him around the world and provided him with a successful TV career, featuring appearances on Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Have I Got News for You and QI among others, he says there’s nothing like the thrill of a great stand-up show.
“There’s nothing quite like it. It’s a singular experience. I don’t think there is anything that quite matches up to it in all of performance art. When you’re in a play or a band, it’s still a collaborative thing.
“When everything comes together and you think of an idea, a joke or routine that connects with people, it’s incredible. It’s the most amazingly satisfying experience hearing an arena full of people laughing at something you’ve thought up. It’s a tremendous buzz.
“The best of those times come when you’re laughing along with them. It’s like you’ve hit on a bit of funny. It’s a bit of funny that was out there, a bit of universal funny that you’re just lucky enough to have plucked and shared with everyone. Those moments rare, but they are wonderful.
“There’s a great folk singer who said that the tunes are out there. You just have to tap into them or capture them before someone else gets them.”
Larks in Transit features extended stories about Bailey’s travels, including one trip to Indonesia. “We were on a birding trip in the jungles of Indonesia. I cannot tell you how remote this place was. It was like some sort of Eden. I was just standing there naked in this river. I was the only person there, and I was thinking, ‘This is one place where I won’t meet anyone’.
“Then out of the blue, a couple of Aussies just came out of the bush and shouted, ‘Oh, look – it’s Bill Bailey! What the hell are you doing here?” That brought me back down to earth.”