Norby West dies

Britain's oldest alternative stand-up was 80

Norby West, the stand-up billed as the oldest alternative comedian on the circuit, has died of pneumonia at the age of 80.

The comedian, whose real name was Richard Elkan, was a stalwart of the London open mic circuit, until he retired five years ago because of declining health.

He started performing at festivals and in the streets in the Seventies, with a pornographic Punch and Judy act, as well as the surreal characters The Amazing Percy Main and The Brixton Bank Manager.

In 1984, he adopted the Norby West persona, ‘the granddad from hell’ described as geriatric filth disguised as satire. One reviewer said he ‘is no mere novelty act, excelling in wry, self-mocking anecdotes’.

Elkan was a founder of the Urban 75 community website in Brixton, South London, where one member today described him as ‘a local character’.

Fellow comic Paul Foot said: 'Richard retired about six years ago because the smoke in the clubs affected his ancient lungs and we remained friends. I would pop round to his flat, he'd give me a stale biscuit and we would laugh at amusing moments from our comedy careers.

'Richard was an entertainer for most of his life. He continued writing plays and other things after his retirement. He never lost his creativity or sense of fun and will be massively missed by me and other comedians.'

He leaves two daughters and several grandchildren bad get-together of friends and family will be held in Brixton’s Albert pub from 7.30pm tomorrow (Tuesday).

Published: 2 Nov 2009

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