Heard it from a great Vine – Interview with Tim Vine

Just prior to him coming to York to both unveil a plaque dedicated to Ken Dodd, and to perform his current stand up show, Howard grabbed five minutes with comedian Tim Vine, AKA the Sunset Milk Idiot.

Tim: Yello

Howard: Hi, is that Tim Vine?

T: It is.

H: Hi Tim, it’s Howard calling from Your Local Link magazine in York.

T: Marvellous. I was expecting your call at precisely this time, so it’s good to know the system works.

H: It is. How are you today?

T: Good thanks, mate.

H: Thanks for agreeing for a chat. What I really want to talk about is you and Ken Dodd as I believe you’ll be unveiling a plaque dedicated to him at The Grand Opera House.

T: Yes, I will be. It’s a great honour as I’ve always been a fan of his – of that whole era and style of comedy, in fact. He was the last of that generation of comedians, out-living the likes of Tommy Cooper, Morcombe and Wise, Les Dawson. He out-lived the best of them for more than 20 years, I should think. My style is also quite traditional when it comes to my act. I’ve always loved doing actual jokes, and there’s nothing all that new about it. I can’t think of anyone else other than Ken who also did that kind of act for so long. One-liners and jokes are a comic tradition, and other than the likes of the Marx Brothers, there isn’t a great record of comedy performances like that. So Ken was like walking history book.

H: So he was an inspiration to you?

T: Yeah. The most inspiring thing about him was his total dedication to making people laugh. If you think about how long he was around, he must have had offers to host game shows and do all sorts of things, but he just wanted to do his act; to get up there and tell jokes. He didn’t turn up on all that many panel shows, and he also didn’t do many interviews. His main thing his entire life, right up until the end, was being funny.

H: Other comedians I’ve spoken to said similar things.

T: Well, he had such broad appeal. There weren’t many people coming out after a Ken Dodd show saying it wasn’t for them. He was a big inspiration for me.

H: He interviewed him last year, didn’t you?

T: I did, yeah. For a Radio 4 show called Chain Reaction. I suggested we do Ken Dodd, and I wasn’t sure if he’d agree to do it, but he did. So we went up to Liverpool to record the interview. I say interview, but I didn’t really interview him. There was an audience there, and it seemed like he couldn’t help himself. He went straight for the audience, and almost ignored me. I tried occasionally to butt in with, ‘Now Ken, you mentioned…’ but he’d plough on with jokes and jibes at the audience. Still, it was a privilege to be spoken over by Ken Dodd.

H: I know what you mean. I interviewed him before his final show here in York in 2016 and he was the one telling me the questions to ask. It was fun, but strange.

T: Psychologists would have a field day with that – putting out the questions first to be answered. Actually, I also met him a few years earlier after a seeing a show of his at Wimbledon Theatre. I went back stage for a chat and I told him he was one of my comedy heroes, and he did that motion with hand to usher me out of there. Thank you, young man, sort of thing.

But It’ll be such a honour to unveil that plaque. I believe he played the Grand Opera House a lot throughout his career, so it’ll be nice to be there. I’ll be doing it along with his wife and his old writing partner, too, so great all round.

H: I think they’re renaming the bar after after him and decorating it with Doddy memorabilia. So watch out for the tickle sticks!

T: Good advice that, cheers Howard.

H: You’re also performing that night. What’s the show about?

T: Yes, after the ceremony I’ll be performing my latest stand up show, Sunset Milk Idiot which I started at Edinburgh last summer. Actually, the name has nothing to do with the show’s content. I had some shots taken last year, one of which with me with a bunch of milk bottles taped to my head standing by a sunset. So not much thought has gone into the title in relation to the show, but in the tradition of Ken Dodd, in whose shadow I stand, the show is basically a load of silly jokes. Silly songs, silly props, and a barrage of nonsense.

H: Sounds fun. Well, best of luck with it all.

T: Cheers now, bye!


See Tim perform at The Grand Opera House on 26th May. For tickets, visit www.atgtickets.com

To read our previous interview with Ken Dodd, go here.


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