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Fast Show legend Simon Day at Gloucester Guildhall

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: December 07, 2012

Simon Day

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HOMELESSNESS, prison, addiction and a highly successful career as a comedian.

If you were looking through a set of CVs, Simon Day's would certainly stand out from the crowd.

Ask him questions about his troubled past and you may think the man who made a name for himself in the Fast Show would re-direct you to happier times.

But refreshingly, nothing could be further from the truth. In a remarkably frank interview, he reveals that he thinks of himself as an addict first and a comedian second.

"Regardless of my successes, I'm an addict," he says. "Everything else comes second, it's a part of my life."

The man who brought us a host of characters in one of the most popular sketch shows of the 1990s was brought up in typically middle-class surroundings in the London suburb of Blackheath.

But a parental split caused him to go off the rails.

"I had a nice upbringing and then my parents broke up and I became obsessed with fruit machines and all my money would go on them," he says. "I'd ended up stealing from friends, taking things from shops."

Among the items Day recalls stealing include steak from Morissons forerunner Safeway and a catering tub of margarine from a café.

It was a spiral of self-destruction that led him to a dark place; and ultimately, a year in prison.

On his release, he was afforded an opportunity that not too many are given. A double act by the name of Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer happened to be writing comedy material above a shop next door.

"I was in the right place at the right time, Vic and Bob were writing 10ft from my door," the 50-year-old recalls. "It was definitely my lucky break. It just came to me. I was in a council flat that was in someone else's name.

"I didn't have any qualifications, I left school at 15.

"A friend of mine said that I had always been funny and introduced me. It gave me a platform and comedy definitely gave me a purpose."

But his addiction problems didn't suddenly stop – they simply changed.

"I became a different type of addict, I would drink and I was doing cocaine," he says. "There was a point where I didn't have anything to offer to people except making them laugh. People who have addiction problems are naturally very needy.

"I don't like silence and I like doing something and making people laugh and entertaining."

His huge slice of fortune in his late 20s led him to appear alongside the likes of Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson in the iconic BBC sketch show The Fast Show, which brought the world characters such as slick used-car dealer, Swiss Toni and music-hall character, Tommy Cockles.

"It was great fun, we weren't together long enough to fall out," he laughs.

"We based the characters on real people a lot of the time. I don't think it'll ever come back.

"We did a web series last year, but I don't think it will come back on TV."

But prepare to relive some of his characters at Gloucester Guildhall tomorrow night, combined with extracts from his aptly-titled autobiography, Comedy and Error.

"When they asked me to write a book, I started looking back over my life," he says.

"It was about admitting I was an addict and hopefully by talking about it I'll be able to help someone else who was in my position.

"It is about getting that message out there; you don't know who is in the audience."

Amid talk of a new TV series that he is cautious to reveal much about, Day offers a pearl of wisdom which to many, may seem blindingly obvious.

"I came to realise that it is not about yourself as a comedian, it's simply about making people laugh."

Life for Day hasn't always been a laughing matter.

A Q&A will take place with Day after the show at Gloucester Guildhall from 7.30pm tomorrow.

Tickets cost from £9. Call 01452 503050.

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