Goody Gallery
 Contact Us
 Club T-Shirts


 Members Online
Last visits :
George Rubins
Online :
Admins : 0
Members : 0
Guests : 24
Total : 24
Now online :

 Joining the Club

Instructions for joining the club & getting our newsletter can be found in the our FAQ.

 Requesting Goodies Repeats

Suggestions can be found in our FAQ.

  Survey for Goodies Repeats

Fill in The Goodies Uk Audience Survey.

British Comedy

Jeremy Hardy article from the Sunday Herald
22/09/2008 00:00 GMT

Posted by lisa

In a Sunday Herald article at comedian Jeremy Hardy talks about his experiences as a frequent guest panelist on "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue".  Use the "click here for more" link below to see the text of the article.

BTW, Jeremy is on tour through at least December - a long list of his stand up dates can be found at


Hardy har har
From the stand-up stage to radio airwaves, Jeremy Hardy's brand of downbeat humour has transformed him into the Eeyore of comedy
By Graeme Virtue

INTRODUCING A young stand-up comedian on his slapdash Channel 4 chat show The Last Resort in 1987, Jonathan Ross revved up the studio audience thus: "At 25, Jeremy Hardy has already achieved what the rest of us can only look forward to in the distant future - middle-age." It's true that, like Charlie Brown, Hardy has always seemed a little old before his time. Ask him if a glass of milk was half-empty or half-full, and you'd expect him to say it was sour. The upside is that now, at 47, Hardy has grown into his embattled worldview, his furrowed appearance and downbeat rhythms the perfect delivery system for a mixture of moral indignation and political exasperation. But listen carefully, and among the bucketfuls of cold-shower pessimism there are sly splashes of whimsy.

On a dreich Monday morning, though, it takes a while to mine the whimsy out of Hardy. You get the distinct sense that even after 25 years in the business, he hasn't been satisfactorily convinced that promotional duties are a necessary evil, and for most of our time together he seems to be cautiously weighing up the calculation. He's at the very outset of a 37-date tour, criss-crossing the UK until December and stopping off in Scotland this weekend for a date that coincides with Glasgow's Merchant City Festival. He is reluctant to be drawn on details - "Best if it's a surprise, like a good Agatha Christie" -but is happy to confirm some things that definitely won't happen.

"I don't ask people what they do for a living," he says. "There are other people to do that. I feel like you've come to see me, so let's talk about me. I would be mortified if I was sitting in the audience and a comedian spoke to me directly." He pauses and reconsiders. "Very occasionally, I ask someone in the audience their age, because I'm surprised to see somebody under 40."

If the current fashion on the circuit is for slick stand-ups who can transfer seamlessly from the Jongleurs stage to TV panel shows, Hardy's technique has remained defiantly artisan - a little shambolic, even. He insists this isn't a persona; it's just him.

"As time's gone on, I've just become like I am," he says. "So when I go on stage, nothing actually happens, I don't go through any transformation. And critics sometimes say He seemed tired' and you think, Well, I was tired'. I don't adopt a persona or a character and I don't really go into a mode. It's just concentrating."

Hardy has long been tagged as a left-leaning comedian: grouchy Marx. There's a wide spectrum of political comedy, from the gelded satire of Rory Bremner to the increasingly joke-free proselytising of Mark Thomas, but Hardy has done as much away from the microphone as behind it. He has offered public and financial support to victims of miscarriages of justice, and his engagement with the International Solidarity Movement led to two fractious visits to Palestine in 2002. Footage from these trips became the well-reviewed but hard-to-track-down documentary Jeremy Hardy Vs The Israeli Army. (He didn't think he'd win.) Does he mind the common perception of him as a political comedian?

"I suppose I've allowed myself to be labelled in that way," he says. "The trouble is, if you're called a political comedian, the suggestion is that you're not a proper comedian. Being a political comedian sounds like you're hectoring. I think I am hectoring and preachy at times, but that's who I am. Another comic might rant and rave about sport or how long you have to queue at the post office."

While he remains unwaveringly left-wing, Hardy is canny enough to realise the tension between being informative and being funny. "When I used to do newspaper column-writing, I was probably better informed that I am now," he says. "I'd have all this stuff I wanted to impart. But when you did a gig, there was quite a lot of exposition and then a joke. And you'd think, the important thing was the exposition. The joke seems a bit trivial compared to the subject."

Hardy studied politics at the University of Southampton after growing up "in very boring suburbs" in Aldershot. Like many fresh-faced undergraduates, he experimented with theatre. "In my second year, I did a comedy revue which I wrote, directed and starred in," he says. "It was a vanity-fest." After graduation, he headed for London, to be "where everything was happening", and attempted to break into television. "I was posting off badly typed sketches to people, and if they sent it back I would just Tippex out the name of that programme and try sending it to someone else."

He also discovered London's nascent 1980s alternative comedy scene, and was inspired by Arnold Brown, the incomparable compere at The Comedy Store. "I loved Arnold Brown," he remembers. "I couldn't believe a comedian could talk so quietly and infrequently and strangely." Hardy redoubled his efforts in stand-up. "It wasn't a sensible thing to do. My parents were concerned. Whereas now I'm sure parents would much rather their children went into stand-up than financial services."

Despite many TV appearances down the years - from a bit part in Blackadder Goes Forth to various comic showcases - Hardy has never felt entirely relaxed in front of the camera. When I bring up the subject of Countdown (he was on Dictionary Corner for a week in 2007) he seems genuinely pained that he hasn't yet been asked back. "I do these TV things and people say, Yeah, that was great' and then I never hear from them again. I always look a bit mental on TV, my eyes move around a lot and I stare into space and get distracted and forget where I am. I never look comfortable. But I never look comfortable in real life either." He is perhaps the only household-name comedian not to have released a live performance DVD.

The wireless has proved more nourishing. His continuing Radio 4 comedy lecture series Jeremy Hardy Speaks To The Nation began in 1993, and he's a reliably droll Eeyore on shows like The News Quiz. Above all, though, regular appearances on the perennially spry I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue have made Hardy particularly beloved. It's the only quiz where he drastically reduces the average age of the panellists; placed alongside Barry Cryer, Graeme Garden and Tim Brooke-Taylor, he's practically a cherub. "It's nice to be part of something venerable that's been going since I was a kid," he says. "There are probably a load of Clue fans who don't even know I do anything else. All those deconstructed panel shows that you see on TV and radio are all basically copies of Clue, because it was the first one. You see great wodges ripped off on programmes like Mock The Week."

Fans are particularly tickled by Hardy's inability to hold a tune during the singing round. "I do get people shouting out at gigs wanting me to sing. It's a source of some sadness to me that it inspires such derision. The first time I sang on Clue, this phenomenon began and now I just get cheered the minute I stand up. But occasionally it comes out in tune and people are very disappointed. The panel get nervous and jittery. It's not something I can control. It might come out in tune or might not. I'm like a stopped clock that's right twice a day."

In April this year, Clue host Humphrey Lyttelton - the jazz godhead who had presented the show, apparently grudgingly, since 1972 - died at the age of 86 after an operation. The BBC have confirmed the nominal quiz will continue, possibly rotating hosts each week like Have I Got News For You. This would be appropriate, since the satirical TV show arguably borrowed plenty from Clue.

"The whole idea of a chairperson who's mucking about and not giving proper scores," says Hardy. "Humph created that. And now there are millions of shows that are quite similar ... or direct rip-offs."

Lyttelton had postponed his operation to complete a live Clue tour around the UK, which had sent Cryer, Garden, Brooke-Taylor and Hardy out on the road together. "It was really lovely spending time with Humph in that last year of his life, because he did seem to be unwinding a lot. He wanted to chat about the old days and sit up at night and talk. You didn't go to bed if Humph was still up."

Hardy sounds almost wistful about privacy. He's cactus-like when it comes to discussing his own life situation. "I have a partner and a daughter who's 18. I've got brothers and sisters and my parents are still alive. I've got no pets. That's it, really." So does he live in London with his partner?

"Yes," he says, carefully. "We're not doing the modern thing of living in separate places. Who can afford that now anyway?"

While wary of revealing personal details - "That'll all go on my Wikipedia site now," he sighs - Hardy is more expansive when discussing his heritage, perhaps because his next project is a book about genealogy. His research has already turned up concrete results, which mostly seem to involve debunking some reassuring Hardy family myths.

"We're supposed to be descended from Christopher Wren, and I think I've established that we're probably not," he says. "There's also some illegitimacy. My great-great-great-great-grandmother had a child out of wedlock, so there's speculation over whether it was the king ... or Nicholas Parsons or somebody." While some amateur genealogists begin with the best intentions but back off once they discover the slave-trading branch of the family tree, Hardy was happy to see it through to the end.

"I can't quite believe how boring and monocultural my ancestry is, which is quite rare in a way. Most people at least have a Huguenot. So the book is about the lacklustre nature of my bloodlines." The working title is I Know Who I Am, That's Not The Problem. It's easy to imagine Hardy saying it aloud.

The night before he makes his pilgrimage north, Hardy is performing in Chiddingly, which sounds like someone's idea of the kind of village where a stereotypical Radio 4 listener might live.

"I've never heard of it either," he admits. "I think it might be a trap. There'll just be an empty warehouse and people with baseball bats." So who would want to kidnap Jeremy Hardy? "Ooh, you'd probably get a few quid for me. My organs are OK. You could probably sell my kidneys ..."

Jeremy Hardy performs at the Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow, on September 27 as part of the Merchant City Festival. Visit for details of all theatre, music, comedy, fashion, film, visual art and live events. Hardy is also at the Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy, on September 28

Email Print

We apologize, but you need to login to post comments. If you don't have an account, why don't you register? It's free!
Goody Calendar 
<<< Sep 2023 >>>
27 28 29 30 31 01 02
03 04 05 06 07 08 09
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

The Goodies - The Complete BBC Collection (DVD) 
ORDER HERE! or here

An Audience With The Goodies DVD 
Order Here or Here

The Goodies: The Complete Collection (BBC & LWT Series) 
Order Here

Clarion and Globe  
To subscribe to our monthly newsletter send an empty email to and reply to the confirmation email.

Latest Newsletters:

* C&G 241 February 2022
* C&G 240 October 2021
* C&G 239 September 2021

Back issues are available in our Articles and Guides section

The C&G also has a Facebook Group. The Goodies Rule OK Fan Club - Clarion and Globe News Press

Editor Contact Details Jenny Doyle:

Other Online Goodies Resources 
* The Goodies Podcast
* The Goodies Pirate Podcast

* Bill Oddie's twitter feed
* Graeme Garden's twitter feed

Goodies' Official Sites:
* Bill Oddie's official website
* Official I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue website

Other Fan Sites:
* The Goodies Facebook Page
* The Goodies Illustrated Guide

Powered by 
phpWebThings powered

 This website was created with phpWebThings 1.5.2.
© 2005 Copyright , The Goodies Rule - OK! Fan Club 

Website Security Test