Published: 09/11/2015 10:51 - Updated: 09/11/2015 11:20

Comedian Andy rings the changes

Andy Hamilton. Photo: Steve Ullathorne.
Andy Hamilton. Photo: Steve Ullathorne.

ANDY Hamilton wants to talk about change.

That is the topic of his one man show, Change Management, where the writer and presenter takes a comic look at how change is an inescapable part of life and how to cope with it.

"It’s not an evening of philosophy. I’m hoping it might cause a few arguments in the car on the way home, but mainly it’s an evening of laughter," Hamilton said,

He has seen plenty of changes in the world of comedy since embarking on his career with jokes for radio and groundbreaking comedy show Not The Nine O’Clock News back in the 1970s.

Since then, in collaboration with writing partner Guy Jenkin, he has given such classic comedy shows as newsroom satire Drop The Dead Donkey, the scene-stealing youngsters of Outnumbered and more recently the pair’s debut comedy feature film What We Did On Our Holiday with David Tennant, Billy Connolly and Rosamund Pike.

However, Hamilton, whose credits also include writing for The Two Ronnies and Rikki Fulton’s Scotch & Wry, acknowledges it might be difficult to revisit some of his past comedy triumphs on the modern era.

"Every now and again we get asked if we might revive Drop The Dead Donkey and it would be very difficult," he admitted.

"We were parodying the beginning of 24-hour news and a lot of the storylines emerged from the absurdities of the commercialisation of the news. But now that’s reached a stage where it would be hard to parody. There’s such a constant bombardment and the competition is so fierce that it would be hard to be more comically extreme than the reality."

That is not to say that we live in a more absurd era than the world of 20 or even 200 years ago.

"Life is uniformly absurd. I would imagine we are no more absurb than we were in the ’60s and ’70s," Hamilton suggested.

"I just think the absurdity takes different forms. There is always something to write about, some observations to be made. Things have got faster and speed creates more extreme positions sometimes — you see that in the digital lynch mobs that form around certain issues — but if we’d been having this conversation in Elizabethan times, we’d be moaning about how fast life had become and there were little carts everywhere now. It’s part of the human condition to imagine that you’re time has changed more than any other."

Away from the keyboard, Hamilton’s sharp comedy brain has been put to use on panel shows such as Have I Got News For You and I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue and with the lead role of Satan himself in his own radio show Old Harry’s Game.

He can even be heard as the voice of Dr Elephant, the dentist in the children’s show Peppa Pig.

It is an aspect of his comedy career that dates back to his time at university and performing in schools, prisons and retirement homes — "Basically to anyone who couldn’t get away," Hamilton added — with the Cambridge University Light Entertainment Society (CULES).

But if some pointed a gun at him and said he could either write or perform, for Hamilton, who is working on a novel and admits an ambition to write a musical, writing would win every time.

"I enjoy performing and it’s nice to get away from a desk and actually meet the audience who watch Outnumbered or listen to Old Harry’s Game," he said.

"I love writing, but there are times when it gets on your nerves — it’s hard work! Getting up on stage an larking about is a good antidote to all that.

David Tennant and his young co-stars braved the threat of Wester Ross's midgies while filming 'What We Did On Our Holiday'.
David Tennant and his young co-stars braved the threat of Wester Ross's midgies while filming 'What We Did On Our Holiday'.

"And the show does change. I talk about different things on different nights to try and surprise myself apart from anything else."

So expect some of the changes Hamilton has noticed in Scotland to crop up in his Inverness and Aberdeen shows.

Hamilton is a regular visitor to the north of Scotland — although he admits that he wonders if turning here in November was an entirely good idea.

"My wife’s family come from Nairn and we’ve been going up once or twice a year for the last 30 years," he explained.

"We’ll exploit the opportunity to go up there again and maybe go for the odd walk. It’ll be nice."

Appearing live is not his only professional connection with the north of Scotland.

Much of What We Did On Our Holiday was shot in the Highlands in most un-Scottish conditions.

"We filmed for seven weeks in Scotland that summer, including two and a half weeks in Gairloch, and we only lost two hours to weather," Hamilton said.

"Amazing isn’t it? It was very windy, but pretty — apart from one night when the wind dropped and the midgies came out in industrial numbers.

"In fact, we had a lovely boatman, whose job was to whiz out into the bay and move off any boats that had strayed into shot, and that evening was the first time he’d worn his midge-net in 10 years. It was quite bad. The poor cameraman had to keep still because he was holding the camera and keeping still is the last thing you want to do when you’re being eaten by midgies. At the end of each take, they were coughing and spluttering like victims of a chemical attack. It was pretty hard."

• Andy Hamilton will be at the Empire Theatre, Eden Court, Inverness, on Monday 9th November and the Lemon Tree, Aberdeen, on Tuesday 10th. Both shows begin at 9pm.

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