People are not who they say they are. This week, my national tour took me to a theatre in London. Noticing posters of Peter Kay on the walls, I asked if he was playing there.
The receptionist confirmed he was and said that there were plenty of tickets available. Peter Kay at a theatre in London not sold out? She then said: “It’s not the real Peter Kay, though. It’s a tribute act.” So there is a man going around the country pretending to be Peter Kay, but it’s not Peter Kay. Does Peter Kay know about this? Do his lawyers? I could understand this if Peter Kay were dead, but he’s still alive! Surely if you wanted to see Peter Kay, you’d go to see the real one?
On stage that night, I wondered if people had come to watch me or an impostor. I decided that if the show went badly I would announce that I had been a Shazia Mirza tribute act; if it went well, I would just say I’d been myself. It was pretty average, so I told them I was Salma Hayek.
This week, I also took part in a travel game show on which a panel of comedians guess where the celebrity guest has a holiday home by asking them a series of questions about themselves and their home. It was harder to guess who the celebrity actually was than where their home was located, as I seemed to have developed a memory problem.
The first celebrity was the boxer Henry Cooper. I mistook him for Tommy Cooper. That’s Tommy Cooper who famously died on stage 23 years ago and has remained dead ever since . . . I proceeded to ask Henry where his red hat was and started repeating “Just like that, just like that”, like a parrot. Henry Cooper looked extremely bemused, but continued to tell me how he was the first person to punch Muhammad Ali to the floor with a big left hook. “Why did you do that?” I replied, at which he looked confused. I heard the producer shout, “Thank God this isn’t live.”
I was dragged off set into the green room, where a nice researcher explained the difference between Henry Cooper the boxer (living) and Tommy Cooper the comedian (dead).
I went back on set, and overcompensated for my huge faux pas by dropping in the names of every single boxer I knew, from Frank Bruno to Rocky. In the end, I couldn’t guess the location of Henry’s holiday home as I hadn’t heard of that area either.
The next guest was Debbie Arnold. I didn’t recognise the face, but I did recognise the name, as I had read about her in the paper the previous day – she is the soap actress who is Chris Tarrant’s new “friend”. I wanted to ask her many questions, none of which was about her holiday home. But I decided to keep my mouth shut, and was just relieved I didn’t get her mixed up with Debbie McGee. Anonymity is obviously the new celebrity.
I performed in Aldershot on Friday night. It was not an average Friday night. The audience was small and included a cat food distributor who claimed that if human beings ate cat food they would grow whiskers, two women whose usual night out was hanging out at the 24-hour Tesco, a man with a spider web tattooed all over his face claiming he was the original Spiderman, and one man who turned up with two wives (apparently still married to both). An hour into the show, he informed me that he was deaf. Remarkably, he regained his hearing when I called him an ugly bigamist.
An hour-and-a-half show turned into three and a half hours, and during the interval the audience got so drunk that they entered the second half doing the conga. At the end of the evening, they refused to leave, saying they wanted more. I had to march them out in single file, which they thought was hilarious. As I got in my car, I thought: “What on earth am I doing with my life? Any more bad shows this week and I’m going to start pretending I’m Benazir Bhutto.”