wizard, a medieval roadie or a boiled egg attached to a shower
curtain - Bill Bailey is proud of the attempts to capture
his unorthodox appearance.
has dubbed his tour 'Part Troll' and delivers his comedy beneath
an enormous portrait that is more Gollum than Bailey, although
a lurking resemblance cannot be denied.
Indeed, Bailey was quick to confess his disappointment at
being overlooked at an audition for the part of Gimli the
Dwarf in the Lord of the Rings films.
He says he was denied access to cinematic Middle Earth for
laying on his West Country accent too thick.
is an accent that comes naturally to Bath-born Bailey and
his act began with a frank admission to this effect. 'I am
Bill Bailey and I am from the West Country' he proclaimed
to the delight of the audience.
But, despite fleeting references to the Wurzels and Taunton
cider, little more was made of this anticipated homecoming.
from the studio sets of television's Never Mind the Buzzcocks
and Black Books, the hirsute comedian revealed his pedigree
both as a stand-up and as an educated musician.
He excelled as a bored lounge pianist with a fondness for
tinkering with lyrics and his skill with the little-seen Theremin
bolstered both a rendition of Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah in the style
of Portishead and an eerie take on the BBC news theme.
Lady in Red made splendid listening when played on the banjo
- one of a number of hillbilly classics that lifted the fuggy
atmosphere of a sticky Colston Hall evening.
whilst the musical numbers were slick and riotously funny,
a well-rehearsed speech routine jarred in places.
lumbered from moments of sublime hilarity on the subject of
Argos catalogues (books of dreams, laminated to cater for
those tears of joy) and Little Chefs (originally built on
ancient ley lines, the roads would come later) to incongruent
deep philosophical thoughts on the existence of God.
Impress but not amuse
Bailey the polymath replaced Bailey the comic as Marx, Freud
and Pavlov were all casually name-dropped amongst a welter
of polished polysyllabisms to impress but not amuse.
uncontrollable laughter came on occasions when the audience
were invited to heckle. The very prospect would have a less-talented
standup in beads of cold sweat, but such unsolicited remarks
were meat and drink to the ever-creative Bailey mind.
assertion that Hitler was a vegetarian was roundly put-down
by a vociferous member of the front stalls who insisted the
German dictator 'ate sausages all his life' thereby undoing
the premise for an elaborate joke.
the script was thrust to one side, Bill Bailey's raw genius
dazzled in improvisation.
After all, trolls only really thrive off the beaten track.