Article in the Sunday Mirror ‘Celebs’ magazine, 25th September 2011
Star Turn – Bobby Ball
The 67-year-old comedy legend and star of Mount Pleasant on head-butts, welding his mate’s boots to the floor and being ‘married’ to Tommy Cannon
Who is the funniest person you know?
The funniest person I know is Tommy Cannon, actually. Other people may not think that, because that’s not his persona on stage, but he makes me laugh. The looks he’ll give me sometimes can set me off- we’ve got the same sense of humour and his face just tickles me. We’ve had our rows, but he means more to me than just being a mate, our relationship goes much deeper than that. I’ve known him longer than I’ve known my wife. It’s like we’re married… but without the sex.
When did you last laugh out loud?
A few weeks ago, I was watching Gold and it was Les Dawson and Roy Barraclough in drag doing their Cissie and Ada sketches. Every time Les fiddled with his bust I was in stitches, I actually had tears in my eyes.
What’s the best practical joke you’ve played on someone?
Before I was famous I was a welder. There was one guy with steel-capped boots on and I welded his boots to the floor. I was a joker even then.
How do you deal with hecklers?
Just agree with them. Then they’ve got nowhere to go. At first an audience likes a heckler, they’ll let them get away with it – but only once. After that a heckler starts being a nuisance. So the best thing to do is to turn to the audience and get them to tell the heckler to shut up and get out of the building. And I’m telling you, when someone’s had 2,000 people shouting ‘shut up and get out the building’ at them, they won’t do it again.
What’s the worst gig you’ve ever played?
The one that always sticks in my mind was back in the 70s. The joint we were in had electric curtains and we were in the middle of our act when they started to close. So we stepped in front of them and they opened again. It was all quite odd. Afterwards I found the compere and I said to him: ‘Mate, I think your curtains are broken,’ and he replied: ‘Broken? I’ve been trying to get you off for the last half an hour-you’re crap!’
Who was the funniest person in the jungle on I’m A Celebrity?
It was Sheree Murphy. She’s a naturally funny person and we clicked. We did gags together and she even made me have an avocado face-pack. I loved every minute, you wouldn’t think you could have a laugh under those conditions, but we did.
Have you ever laughed so much you’ve wet yourself?
I came very close. I was watching a Tommy Cooper sketch once, the one where he used to keep going through a gate and the more he walked through that gate, the more I thought I was going to pee myself. In the end I had to run to the toilet.
Has your humour ever got you into trouble?
When we were on television in the 80s I used to head-butt Tommy as part of our act. The audiences loved it but then we got a letter from the education authority saying that kids were doing it in the school yard and they asked us to calm it down a bit.
What’s the best comedy catchphrase?
Well, you can’t beat ‘Rock On, Tommy’, can you? I think I’ll have that written on my tombstone becaise I get it shouted at me all the time, whether I’m on my holidays or having a pee.
How’s the new sideline as an actor?
Being on the Mount Pleasant set with a load of actors I’m like a little boy in a sweet shop. I pinch myself sometimes, I really do. All my life I’ve been a comic and then suddenly, at my age, I’m learning a new craft, which is great. I just use what I use in comedy. I’ve never had any acting lessons so you just have to try and put yourself in the situation your character is in and when you get to my age you’ve got a vast experience of life. You just have to use it to bring the emotions to the surface.
Who makes you laugh nowadays?
Lee Mack, Lee Evans, Peter Kay. I like that they all have family appeal. An old comic once told me, if you’re blue you’ll only sell two tickets, if you’re clean you’ll sell four. We’ve always been that way. All that effin’ and blindin’ isn’t for us. Our appeal is that it’s family entertainment, of course we’ll do a few cheeky gags but there’s no swearing in our show.
Tell us a joke
You know you’re getting old when you help an old lady across the road and realise it’s your wife.