Self-appointed Mayor of Balham, Grumpy Old Man TM, much-loved writer and comedian, Arthur Smith has unquestionably attained the status of National Treasure. What this means in practice is unclear, but may well have something to do with better socks. That and an infectious faith in the human spirit.
I caught up with Arthur after a weekend he described as “rambling about in mud with friends.” Has he ever rambled over this way at all?
“I have been to Lewes, as it happens. I once spent the night at Virginia Woolf’s place, and the next day I walked out over the Downs and came across the paragliders. I don’t suffer from altitude sickness or vertigo or anything so I thought, right, let’s have a go at this. So they strapped me in with this bloke and up I went, swooping in and out of the countryside. It was lovely.”
So a fearless comedian is going to be all right doing a gig on election night in a Tory marginal?
“Oh blimey. Am I? Oh dear. Though to be honest, I don’t really hear the news much. Not because I’m hard of hearing or anything, it’s just that I’m busy shouting F*** OFF repeatedly at the television.” Yes, let’s spare a thought here for all the similarly festive events overshadowed by this latest doomed attempt to find out what the British public wants for Christmas.
On which subject, what’s the official Arthur Smith tried-and-tested recipe for a happy Christmas?
“Grin and bear it. No, I can’t say that. Actually, my partner’s big on Christmas so I have to get involved a bit, but I’m not entirely sure that everyone really does like figgy pudding. Children like Christmas the best, so the best thing is to be around children, preferably between the ages of four and 12. After that, quite frankly, I lose interest. Oh and I’m hopeless at wrapping. I could probably have a go at the sort without a ‘w’, but the one with a ‘w’ I just get in a terrible mess.”
Helping Arthur get into the Christmas spirit will be Mark Dolan, host of Channel 4’s Balls of Steel, and Fran Kissling, ‘very clever and very funny’ according to the Bath Echo – a newspaper, not an acoustic device. Fran promises a bit of Swiss surrealism, and if you didn’t know that was a thing, remember their cheese is famous for the bits that aren’t there. Eleanor Knight
Comedy Night Christmas show with Arthur Smith, Mark Dolan, Fran Kissling and more. Con Club, Lewes, 12th December. Doors open 7.30pm. Show starts at 8pm. Tickets here.
Arthur’s brilliant new book, 100 Things I Meant to Tell You is out now and available at arthursmith.co.uk