Sunday, 23 November 2008

Why I Love (and Now Admire) Bill Bailey

“You have to pick your targets,” he says. “And I've realised that, consciously or unconsciously, I tend to target multinational companies! The world's richest banks, the world's richest retailers, people who aren't vulnerable. Because I think, of anyone, you can take this, me, some beardy bloke, shaking a fist at you.

“That was the thing about the whole Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross affair. It was just the wrong targets.” They mocked the weak? “They mocked the weak. You have got to aim a bit higher than that.”

From an interview with the Times.

I love Bill Bailey for a hundred different reasons, but this is the big one, which he has now handily summed up for me in a quote. "You have got to aim a bit higher than that." I loved him upon seeing his cheerily bemused comedy stylings on Never Mind The Buzzcocks for the first time, I loved him even more when I first saw his incredible musical talent in a stage show, he had my undying love forever when I saw a picture of him in a "This Is What A Feminist Looks Like" T-shirt. Bill Bailey is possibly the most well-loved comedian in Britain at the moment (I'm having a hard time thinking of other contenders), and on the basis of that he could say pretty much anything and get a laugh. He knows that. When you get as popular as he has, you don't have to try anymore. Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand haven't had to try for some time. They went too far, and will be forced to aim for a higher standard, at least for a while. Bill Bailey does it all for himself. He holds the concept of the "easy target" in contempt, not because he has to but because he is better than that, both as a comedian and as a person.

My love for Bill Bailey has grown into admiration because of what he demands of himself. I don't admire many people (never surprised, never impressed) and I almost wish this weren't a reason to admire him, that most comedians thought like this and the Russell Brands of this world were an aberration, but I know they don't and they're not. Bill is an exception, a rarity. I admire him for expecting more of himself, and for expecting more of his industry. In fact, in his honour I'm going to implement a new Thank You feature.

Thank You, Bill Bailey, for restoring a little of my faith in comedy.

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