God this is all from memory but here’s a potted biography of my working life.
1974-5 Perform around 20 or 30 gigs at folk clubs and Working Mens’ Clubs around Leeds during my school holidays. Whimsical songs and no jokes, for sure.
1976 Occasional gigs in student bars and more folk clubs. Punk happens. But not to me... yet.
1977 I get punk, just as the cool Londoners pronounce it dead. Suddenly there are more gigs to play. The punks are so amazed when a long-haired bloke with acoustic guitar walks on that instead of gobbing they let me do my two silly songs and cheer ironically when I leave.
1978 Support local punk band The Cortinas in front of 2000 fans at Bristol Locarno. Get the best heckle of my career (still to be improved upon 30 odd years later) - "Ere mate, you gettin’ paid to do this gig?" asks a punk at the front. "No." "Ere’s a quid then, now f**k off."
Discover Edinburgh. Well, obviously not in the Columbus sense, but find out about the fringe.
1979 Set up a punk record label. Not a success – until I leave, when the label re-invents itself as the home of the WOMAD festival.
First Edinburgh one-man show. Am told by Fringe Director Alastair Moffat that one review of ‘Guts’, my one-man punk opera, is ‘the third-worst review I’ve ever seen in The Scotsman.’ I learn my first lesson in comedy – several okay reviews will not get you as big an audience as one certified stinker. Show is a complete success.
1980 Serving in a pub in Bristol when my comic hero, surrealist theatre supremo Paul B. Davies asks me to be in his new show. Paul’s Crystal Theatre company are big stars in Bristol, their shows at punk gigs featuring the likes of Keith Allen and Dave Rappaport are legendary. Of course I’d like to be in it. The play is called ‘The Fatted Calf’ and is about prostitutes. Most of the cast are women. I play five different sexual perverts. The play runs for two weeks at the ICA. Every night I make heavy breathing phone calls, act masturbation while a woman is strapped to a crucifix, and pretend to scream in exquisite pain as a cigarette is stubbed out on my naked back.
Set up ‘Venue’, a what’s on magazine for Bristol. This becomes a very big success, the moment I leave.
1981 Spend two weeks in Amsterdam and Rotterdam in Paul’s latest show ‘Men Of Stone.’ Don’t remember much about it. (Clue is in the word: ‘Amsterdam’)
1981-3 Give up silly writing and performing, become a journalist in South Wales... unsuccessfully. When I leave two years later my managing editor genuinely says:’I’ll see to it that you never work in newspapers again’. And is even more genuinely surprised when I say: ‘Thank you.’
1982 While still training to be a journalist, go to the old Comedy Store, above a strip club in Soho. Get up on stage for five minutes. Am pleasantly surprised not to be booed off.
1983 Begin performing stand-up at London comedy clubs.
1983–6 Regular writer on Radio 4 topical show Week Ending. Occasional contributor to radio shows Huddlines, In One Ear, Unnatural Acts. And Spitting Image on ITV.
Occasional music articles for NME and The Face.
1984 Edinburgh Show: Tuxedo Junta written and performed with Paul B. Davies. Perrier nomination.
1985 Edinburgh Show: Stand-up with Kit Hollerbach, Paul Merton.
Out of this show emerges The Comedy Store Players – still going strong, despite me leaving...
1986 Edinburgh Show: Stand-up with Nick Revell.
1986-88 Co-wrote 20 + songs with Pete Sinclair for Spitting Image. The answer to your next question is 'no'. (‘Did you write The Chicken Song’?)
1987 Edinburgh Show: Comic Abuse with Phil Cornwell, Felix Dexter, Ivor Dembina.
1988 Writer-performer Edinburgh – first solo show.
Writer-performer Radio 4 sitcom pilot. Can’t even remember what it was called.
Co-writer with Pete Sinclair: ‘The Best of British’ Radio 4 series narrated by Willie Rushton.
1989 Edinburgh Shows: One man stand-up, and The Smouldering Globules of Love (writer-performer, my first Edinburgh play)
1990 Created and performed ‘David Clichet’, journalist character for Up Yer News on British Satellite Broadcasting (later BSkyB).
Edinburgh: One man stand-up
1990-93 Regular member of the Comedy Store’s Cutting Edge topical comedy show.
1991 Edinburgh Shows: Dog (Play), and The Cutting Edge
1991-94 Occasional guest on Radio 1’s topical panel show Loose Talk.
1992 Edinburgh Show: One man stand-up
Co-creator, writer, performer Songlines (Radio 1 songs/stand-up series)
1993 Edinburgh Show: One man stand-up
The Vicar of Deptford (ITV sitcom scripts). Exactly the same premise as 'Rev' (2010) Dicover I'm exactly 17 years ahead of my time.
Songlines series 2
1994 Edinburgh Show: Fit (Stand-up Play)
1994-99 Wrote all or most of the sketches for Radio 5 topical comedy show The Treatment, 100+ episodes.
Regular writer of Ned Sherrin’s Radio 4 Saturday morning Loose Ends monologue.
1994 – Occasional performances with the world’s first Jewish heavy metal band, Guns’n’Moses
1995 Writer-creator Shalom You Northern Bastard (Radio 4 sitcom pilot)
1995-99 Occasional guest on Loose Ends
1996 They Came From Nowhere – Radio 5 documentary, writer/presenter
1997 Writer for Jack Docherty (Channel 5)1998-2002 Regular writer on Channel 4’s Big Breakfast.
Regular writer on Radio 4’s News Quiz
Regular writer on Channel 4’s Eleven O’Clock Show In my defence, yer honour, I was asked to develop my own quirky topical ideas for this show - all the bits that got cut before episode 1 aired.
1999 Travels With My Anti-Semitism (writer-performer, Radio 4 sitcom series)
1999-2002 Occasional writer for Radio 4’s Dead Ringers (4-5 series)
1999-2004 Regular writer for Radio 4’s Sunday Format (4 series)
2000 Script editor, Blouse & Skirt (BBC2)
2000-09 Scriptwriter Channel 4 Political Awards
2001 Writer/co-creator The Mayor of Balham (Radio 4 pilot)
Writer/co-creator You Are Here (BBC2 pilot)
Winner of the Wally Malston Comic Heritage Award for new young comedy writers. (age 42)
2001 – Regular writer on Have I Got News For You (since series 22)
2002 Occasional writer on Room 101 (BBC2)
Co-writer Arthur Smith’s Last Hangover (Radio 4)
Writer-creator Doctor You (Radio 4 sitcom pilot script)
Writer-creator It’s History (Radio 2 spoof chat show pilot)
2003 Writer-creator Des Murphy (Radio 4 sitcom pilot)
Writer/co-creator Beat The Kids (Radio 4 panel show, 2 series)
2003-4 Invited to write for series 5 of BBC1 show My Family
2004–08 Co-creator, -story and -lyric writer for 15 Minute Musicals, 5 series on Radio 4.
2005 Writer and guest Jammin (2 series Radio 2)
2006 Writer/creator The Tolpuddle Martyrs (Radio 4 sitcom script)
Writer/presenter I Want To Give Up Driving (Radio 4 documentary)
2007 – Lyric writer for CBBC’s Horrible Histories (3 series)
2008 Gagwriter for BBC1 sitcom Not Going Out
2008 - Occasional columns for Chortle and British Comedy Guide websites
2009 Gagwriter for BBC1 sitcom Life Of Riley
Occasional columns for The Guardian
Writer/presenter It’s About Time (Radio 4 documentary)
Writer/performer My Life As A Footnote (new one-man show)
Winner of the Writers’ Guild Radio Comedy Show award with David Quantick and Richie Webb for 15 Minute Musicals
2010 More 'Horrible Histories', 'Not Going Out', '15 Minute Musicals', 'My Life As A Footnote.'
2011 ask Doris Stokes