RIP: Chris Luby goes for a Burton

Battle of Britain impersonator dies after fall

Chris Luby, one of the more unforgettable comedians from the early days of alternative cabaret, has died after falling down stairs at his home.

He suffered bleeding in his brain following the fall and was rushed to hospital, but doctors could not save him and he died just before noon yesterday.

Luby’s act involved impersonating aircraft, racing cars and an entire re-enactment of Trooping The Colour using only his vocal talents.

One story from his time on the circuit involves a heckler who , in the middle of his noisy Battle of Britain impression, shouted out: ‘Do a glider!’

A retired civil servant and military aircraft obsessive, he was a favourite of the late Malcolm Hardee, who used to manage him.

Together they ran the Wibbley Wobbley floating pub and comedy venue in Rotherhithe, South East London, where Hardee drowned in January 2005.

Luby was known as a drinker, and there are many tales of him getting drunk on the road. In an anecdote in Hardee’s 1996 autobiography I Stole Freddie Mercury’s Birthday Cake – published on ghostwriter John Fleming’s blog today as he broke the news of Luby's death – describes how Luby was thrown out of the Comedy Store for being drunk – and then off a night bus for shouting his act at the driver.

In his memoirs Comedy And Error, Fast Show star Simon Day described Luby as ‘the antithesis of the standard waspish middle-class stand up,and he carried with him a whiff of the parade ground and bunk-room torment’ adding: ‘Perhaps people like Luby were meant to die under fire. He’d been born at the wrong time and been denied his chance to participate in mortal combat and now he was forced to walk the earth like a zombie Biggles without a plane.’

• For more on Luby’s colourful past, see John Fleming's blog.

Published: 12 Jan 2014

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