There’s no doubt about it, I’m a big lad. When I was first diagnosed as diabetic I was advised to lose weight. Don’t worry, said the nurse, you’ll still be funny. She meant it nicely, otherwise I could have done her for fattism.
Then I thought, hang on, how much of my comedy success is based on my corpulence? And, more importantly, do I give a hoot?
I was once in a show called Eat Me where in one scene I had to distribute chocolates to larger members of the audience and those who claimed to be on a diet. I would say ‘Hands up if you are a fatty’. If there was no response, I’d say ‘Hands up if you are sitting next to a fatty’ and dozens of hands would shoot up. But it was spiteful thin people (more often than not spouses) being fattist, not me. And the fatties got a chocolate.
I ended up naked in the show (back view only) so they can’t say I didn’t expose myself to ridicule. The Guardian critic said it was quite the most extraordinary end he had ever seen on stage. Take that any way you like!
On holiday in theWest Indieswe noticed a healthy disregard for the politically correct. After being told by the captain of a ferry ‘Hey, big man, double up, double up!’ (i.e. sit on two plastic chairs so the legs don’t splay) we met a nice man in a bar who could arrange fishing trips. I don’t really get on with boats, I said, meaning I suffer from seasickness. ‘Why’s that, too fat?’ he enquired disarmingly and without the slightest hint of malice. I imagine he had a vision of his prow sticking up out of the water with me weighing down the stern to the Plimsoll line!
On another occasion on the way to the fruit market, two ladies, one spectacularly large, the other diminutive, flagged down the impossibly crowded local minibus. I don’t want the big one in the front mashing up my seat, shouted the driver. So somehow we all budged up to squeeze the larger lady into the back amidst gales of good natured laughter, most loudly from the lady herself.
I can’t imagine that happening on the number thirteen!