Award winning Writer, Playwright, Presenter, Public Speaker and Alternative Comedian. Arthur Smith is an English comedian and writer. He went to grammar school and on to the University of East Anglia, where he took a degree in comparative literature. Arthur was one of many stand up performers on the alternative comedy scene in the 1980’s performing with the likes of Ben Elton, Rick Myall & French & Saunders.
He still performs today in much the same manner, and has regularly attended the Edinburgh Fringe comedy festival since 1977; and is still compering the long running Hackney Empire New Act of the Year competition final. He has also written a body of serious or semi serious work, including stage plays such as An Evening with Gary Lineker.
In addition to stand up comedy, such as his recent hit Arthur Smith Sings Leonard Cohen (later broadcast on Radio 4); he is also a radio presenter on such BBC Radio 4 shows as Excess Baggage and Loose Ends, and appears on TV comedy panels. He took over as narrator of the TV series A Life of Grime after the death of John Peel; and more recently was one of the Grumpy Old Men in the television series of that name.
His near death experience (from pancreatitis) made him teetotal. A time in his life which he turned into a poignant comedy monologue Arthur Smith’s Last Hangover. Subsequently he developed Type 2 Diabetes; he regularly writes a column for the Diabetes UK magazine Balance. During the late 1980’s Smith took on the role of consumer expert, testing such items as toilet paper, hangover cures and Pot Noodles; on the BBC Radio 2 Nightcap show, hosted by announcer and voiceover supremo Peter Dickson. In 1989, Arthur also did voices on an Aardman Animations short called Ident with Phil Nice.
One of Smith’s more unusual roles was in the sitcom Red Dwarf in the episode “Backwards”. He gave a speech (in reverse) blaming Kryten and Rimmer for starting a fight. If, however, the speech is played forwards; he is heard to be insulting the listener, who has flipped the record over, trying to find out what he was saying (“What a poor sad life he’s got”).
A night in watching football with fellow comedian Tony Hawks, ended with him challenging Hawks to beat the entire Moldovan football team at tennis. Hawks took him up on this bet, and wrote a book about it. Hawks won the bet, and Arthur had to stand on Balham High Road and sing the Moldovan National Anthem whilst naked.
Smith also appeared in a cameo role, for the first series of the BBC sci fi radio comedy Married. He played an alternate universe version of himself, who eked out a living as a children’s party entertainer. This role expanded in the second and third series.
In the winter of 2006 Smith travelled to Margate to host The Margate Exodus; which brought together local musicians and singers to perform songs of the 10 Plagues. Such bands as ‘NARCS’ and NoisePunk exponents ‘Lips Like Oxygen’ took to the stage. Smith said “Blimey, I’m exhausted just watching them!” Smith also played “Clarrie” in the Doctor Who audio version of The Kingmaker.
Old & Cool
In 2005, Smith turned down a lifetime achievement award from the Perrier Award organisers. He said that: “Comedians rather dislike the Perrier Awards and the public aren’t interested. Basically, they wanted to tell me I was old and cool; well, I know that already, and anyway, my ego is bloated enough”.
In 2010, he was a Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award nominee; for best publicity stunt at the Edinburgh Fringe. After declaring that he would pay £100 to any journalist attending his show who would juggle fish.
He currently resides in Balham, London; in 2009 he broadcast a comedy series for BBC Radio 4 from his own home called Arthur Smith’s Balham Bash. He is engaged to Beth Kilcoyne, a Cambridge graduate, performer and screenwriter. His published works include, Sit-Down Comedy and My Name is Daphne Fairfax.
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Matthew Willetts MA is the Director of Comicus who has over 35 years experience in television, film, theatre, and comedy club/cabaret entertainment, working as a performer, screenwriter, producer and agent. He lectured at Southampton Solent University in Comedy, Screenwriting, Television, Theatre & Radio. Matthew can sometimes be seen and heard on TV & Radio and often quoted in the national press and media publications. As well as speaking regularly at festivals and industry conferences, he has been a judge at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Montreux Television Festival.
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