6:30pm Thursday 1st March 2012
By Katherine MacAlister
Roy Chubby Brown’s soft rasping voice derailed me straight away. Expecting a loud brash Northerner, the 67-year-old’s gentle tones and considered answers throw me completely.
Sounding more like a nice old man than one of the most offensive comedians in the country, he also pre-empts me at every turn, taking all the wind out of my self-righteous sails.
“My wife always says ‘sweets taste better when they are stolen’,” Roy Chubby Brown says, “and that’s what my comedy is like. But I’m not racist or bigoted and I can’t put the world’s wrongs to right. I’m just making a living making people laugh. I have too many problems of my own to worry about everyone else’s. I can’t offend people because it’s all on the poster, so don’t come if you think you’ll be offended. If you want clean, go somewhere else.”
That puts me firmly in my place. Yet the feminist in me still wants his ‘humour’ to be questioned, if not silenced. “Well we do have freedom of speech,” he says, “and if they turned round and said I can’t talk about women, I’d have to talk about something else.
“But you don’t go to a cinema and watch a violent film and then come out and stab someone. You go back to reality and your everyday lives as soon as you walk out. And so many people are sick of political correctness because all the humour is taken out. And what’s left? Dogs sitting and wagging their tails? Suggestive material has a wider range and I go headlong into it,” Chubby says defiantly. “People come to see me because they know what I’m doing and what’s going to happen and as a result my fans are very loyal.”
As for his critics, Chubby couldn’t care less. “They say my comedy isn’t for the modern ear, that I’m a dinosaur but as far as new comedians go, some are good and some I don’t get. Noel Fielding I don’t get. Little Britain isn’t funny. An old woman p***ing herself in a supermarket isn’t funny, there’s no humour in that. I like a punchline.
“You always get people who don’t like what you do, but I played to 1,500 in Newcastle last night and met a bloke who said he’d seen me 27 times and never got bored, which is a pat on the back.”
In other words, Chubby has an audience and he’s not scared to go out there and give them what they want. And anyway, being frowned upon isn’t new. “I remember Les Dawson telling me ‘You could be top comedian in the country if you could stop swearing and telling mucky jokes’. But clean jokes never made us laugh at school and anyway it was too late because I’d already developed my jack-the-lad-off-the-building-site style, you know – things you wouldn’t say in front of the mother.
“At the time I was broke with a wife and children and knew the only way to get away with it would be through a character like Chubby Brown. But I also knew it would mean I wouldn’t get on TV.”
That’s the other defining factor of course. Chubby didn’t exactly start off with a silver spoon in his mouth and pandering to middle-class media types by toning down his act isn’t on the agenda.
“I come from a rough estate in Middlesborough where there was no money and lots of fighting. I’ve done detention and prison and borstal. It’s a miracle I got where I am, considering where I came from. But I’ve had to mature and educate myself. When I left school I could hardly write and was terrible at maths. I’ve had a topsy-turvy life.”
Now happily married with eight children, Chubby keeps horses and takes three weeks off a year to lie by the pool in Tenerife and ‘recharge’. “I have a loving family and would not swear in front of them. My wife wouldn’t allow it. We have no toilet talk in the house. She’s a lady and she wouldn’t have anything like that,” he says respectfully.
So how does he cope with his Jekyll and Hyde existence? “What I have at home is wonderful,” he says simply. “And it’s not about the money now. If I tell a joke and no one laughs, that’s the worst that can happen. So I buy The Sun, The Mirror, The Express every day and write a script about the news. I love my job and don’t want it to stop.”
So would he do anything differently? “No. I’ve been so successful, and you can’t want something you never had.”
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