Likening himself to a dog with zoomies, internationally renowned comedian, musician and actor Bill Bailey is set to hit the southern stage in March. Southland Express reporter Laura Smith spoke to Bailey on day three of his managed isolation.
BAILEY kept busy promoting his upcoming tour during his time at an Auckland managed isolation and quarantine facility.
Outside of interviews, he spent his hours at dance, fitness and gym sessions – all via zoom.
He said it was no real hardship spending his time in the hotel, and staff there had been amazingly friendly and supportive.
“Honestly, it’s a testament to how well New Zealanders dealt with the whole pandemic.”
There was a marked contrast to how it was in the United Kingdom, he said.
“The utter shambles in the UK, with this blithering toxic hay-bale Boris, and his useless shower of incompetence. How they’ve stuffed it up so royally is beyond belief.”
To be in New Zealand was a blessed relief.
A frequent visitor to our shores, Bailey was looking forward to performing once more.
“This is something I’ve done most of my life. I have to do it, I can’t really function without doing it.”
To stop when the pandemic hit had been devastating, he said.
The live arts in the UK had been struggling, and while he had attempted to perform zoom gigs, it did not work well for him.
The option of performing without an audience brought home to him how comedy was a two-way artform.
And so, he chose to craft a show which, among other things, mused on the effects of Covid-19.
En Route To Normal would tour 12 cities, and would start on March 13 in Wellington.
From there, he would head south to Invercargill and then Dunedin.
When asked about his previous experiences in the deep south, Bailey said they had been good.
He had been to Invercargill more than once.
“I was so taken by the place I wrote a song about it.”
This would be performed at all New Zealand shows.
His first trip to the southern city included a coastal tour, which involved seeing some of the local wildlife.
“I just love the wild places… this is the perfect place for me.”
He enjoyed visiting places on the edge of things, he said.
“On coastlines, or the southernmost or northernmost. That year I went to Invercargill, I had done a show in the Arctic Circle… I looked it up, it’s the most northerly and most southerly gig on the planet. I managed to fit them in one year.”
As for Dunedin, it was one of the first venues he had performed in the country outside of Auckland.
On tour with American comedian Rich Hall, the pair were facing an empty venue 10 minutes before showtime.
“It was about 10 to 8 and there were 12 people in the theatre. We thought,
An argument ensued about who would perform first.
“Then, at about 2 minutes to 8, 750 people showed up.”
Bailey’s performances were high energy.
“It’s brought about by the energy of the audience. That’s why I find it so hard to do gigs online, not getting that energy or tension you get in a crowd.”
He fed off that energy, which he would bring to his upcoming shows. “I’ll be leaping about like a young lamb.”
“This is something that has been denied to me now for a year, I have no idea what’s going to happen. I might go completely, totally bananas.”
It was the longest he had gone without doing a live show in the past 20 years, he said.
“I’m in unchartered territory really.”
His show included topics such as people’s reliance on technology, which featured 90’s house music based on the skype call song.
Music, a key element of his shows, was also a topic of thought for him during lockdown.
“What is music, where does music come from? Who was the first person to write something down?”
He realised it went back millennia.
“The thing that music is a hobby, some sort of thing to amuse themselves; it doesn’t add up, it’s part of being human.”
He incorporated his music to mix up the dynamic of his shows; the intellectual or cerebral side of comedy combined with the subconscious effect of music, he said.
- En Route to Normal: Invercargill’s Civic Theatre, Tuesday, March 16, book at www.ticketek.co.nz