Mick’s a right royal laugh

FRI MICK MILLER
FRI MICK MILLER
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Let’s get one thing straight. Poulton-based comedian Mick Miller may have stolen the Royal Variety show, but it’s unlikely to command him the bigger bucks one would assume goes with royal appointment.

Mick quips: “You could say I’m doing an arena tour, but it’s more likely to be Arena Bingo! I’m off to Butlins in Skegness, then Plymouth to work with Nicholas Parsons before I go cruising, again as an entertainer.

“I spent the summer here in Blackpool with Joe Longthorne. Life is bizarre.”

It’s the morning after the Royal Variety Performance, and Mick’s up with the larks and pointing out the show was pre-recorded, not live, “so I watched it like everybody else, then went to bed, and am always up by 7am.”

So where are the fans, the autograph hunters? We locals tend to take him and his material for granted. A prophet is never appreciated in his own home and all that.

“I don’t get bothered here,” he admits. “Well, one bloke turned up from Gloucester one morning, having tracked down where I lived so he could buy my dvd. I opened the door in my dressing down.”

Instead of giving the chap a dressing down for intruding into his privacy, Mick gave him the dvd for free. “I figured if he had come all that way he deserved it.”

For the record, don’t try this at home. Mick will charge the full whack – the Original Comedians Live 40th Anniversary Tour costs a tenner.

But that’s a small price to pay for a slice of comic life featuring one of the UK’s hardest working comedians – the one known as “the bald guy with the long hair” from the TV series The Comedians.

He regularly denies being Andy from Little Britain, and even in his local pub, he’s been mistaken for a Grumbleweed.

“That’s why it’s hard to take this business seriously,” adds Mick.

As he gets back to the bread-and-butter stuff – Butlins at Skeggy, Warners and the cruise market via Dubai and Singapore – critics are still talking about how the latterday Max Wall lookalike made the Princess Royal rock with laughter.

Stole the show, many say, and given the bill included Barry Manilow and Tony Bennett, proving he could still out-sing many a young X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent pretender or contender, that’s quite an achievement.

Not that Mick noticed. “I’m blind as a bat without my glasses. All I could see were the royal flowers shaking.

“A friend told me Princess Anne was laughing. That was brilliant.”

The real winners for his money were Penn and Teller, “and the two blokes with the balancing on ropes routine”.

What’s more, Teller talked to him backstage. “He said hello. I looked at him and thought ‘but you don’t talk’.

“Nice American accent, well spoken. And what a magician! That trick with the goldfish, it was beautiful.”

As for sharing a stage with veteran American crooner Bennett, Mick says: “Unforgettable. He’s still got it. The charisma, the voice.”

The ultimate irony is Mick was there as a warm-up and link man, so not expecting to make the cut in the edited highlights.

“That’s also why I didn’t get to meet HRH backstage,” he admits.

“I feel a bit sad about that. It would have been nice to do the handshake thing.”

He reckons his set went down well because there was a home crowd in, the hoi polloi of the region assembled at The Lowry, Salford Quays, and many of them were of a similar age.

Mick says: “Nowadays, TV producers don’t go to the venues where we work, they do the comedy clubs, so this stuff is new to them, while the audience loved the old-fashioned stuff.

“My big hope is the show is good for our type of comedy, me, Johnnie Casson, Frank Carson, Stan Boardman, the old school comedians.”

Turns out Peter Kay, now thoroughly settled into his royal host role after initially wrong-footed for the Blackpool show, is a Miller fan. “Jason Manford likes my stuff too. He got me on Comedy Rocks.”

Mick’s own heroes are the late WC Fields, Les Dawson and Bob Monkhouse.

He’s won a younger following through cult BBC3 sitcom Ideal, starring Johnny Vegas as a small time drug dealer.

Mick played his dodgy dad in four of the seven series, but it was axed earlier this year after the seventh series screened.

“That made me mainstream,” he admits. “It’s a shame it’s gone.”

His royal material – an increasingly sozzled Noddy storyteller sketch – was more Miller Lite than his Red Hot Bald and Blue days.

In fact, a sketch which would have been a winner in the old music hall days is an old favourite with his fans, and now winning massive plays online.

And Mick confides one insider snippet. “When we rehearsed I opened the gin bottle, took a sip, and realised they hadn’t replaced it with water.

“The moral is always sniff before you sip!”

jacqui.morley@

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