Tuesday, 2 June 2009

John Hegley

There was a nice piece by John Hegley in the Education section of the Guardian today. In another life - I knew John Hegley (I know - I know everybody!) and saw him perform many times, both solo and with the fabulous Popticians. I even did a poster and leaflet for a lunchtime cabaret he organised at a pub in Islington.

John is a very funny and very clever man. It has been fascinating to see whom Fame has chosen from among the glut of 'alternative' comics and performers of the 1980s. Paul Merton (or Martin as he was then) for instance thoroughly deserves to be successful. He was such a funny stand-up. So quick-witted, with great (and very surreal) material. But there are others I can think of whose fame seems arbitrary when put next to those who remain fairly unknown.

John has a cult following, I think its fair to say. Those who know and love him, really do love him I think. And quite right too. He's a lovely man. We are fans of The Flight of the Conchords in our house, but whenever I hear lines like 'Your so beautiful, you could be a part-time model' from The Most Beautiful Girl (In The Room) and 'Could somebody please, take these cutlerys, out of my knees' from Think About It, they sound like things John might have sung twenty years ago.

This great story sums John up, I think. He has an eye for weird detail, and most importantly, he knows how to write:

We arrive at breaktime. Pupils busy the playground. On the ground, I pass a toothbrush. Beside some discarded orange drinking straws. A blue and white toothbrush. Unusual. "There's a toothbrush," I say to Bjorn. Bjorn is the teacher who invited me. His teeth are clean.

In the hall, the children sit in their navy blue uniforms. White pencils and paper are being handed out, I sing about the school uniforms they're wearing: "You're all wearing lots of blue, so how come none of the teachers do?" Some of the children show me their teeth. We compose acrostics for the word LEAF. One is Lies Envy Arson Fun. I ask if anyone saw the playground toothbrush. Just one hand goes up.

"... beside some orange drinking straws?" I add. The hand goes down.

It was a different toothbrush.


  1. Aww, I've never seen John Hegley referenced anywhere at all, so it is great to hear from someone who has clearly appreciated him for a long time.
    My aunt took me to see a show of his in Luton - his hometown and mine (I say with equal shame and pride) - and he was hilarity personified. I'm proud to say she thought that, even at only age 15 as I was then, I would appreciate his humour.

    He is genius. Nice to see the recognition :)

  2. Thanks for that. I couldn't agree more. John is a national treasure