Who's in the house?

Meet the Kings Of Comedy inmates

Eight comics are to eat, sleep and perform together over four weeks in the new E4 reality show Kings Of Comedy.

Combining Big Brother with a stand-up show, the programme puts comics from the old and new generations together to see what happens.

The results are broadcast at 10pm each weeknight, with an eviction show on Thursdays and a Channel 4 round-up programme on Fridays.

Prize for the contestant that emerges triumphant is a fully funded broadcast pilot show that could mean a first break for an emerging talent, or a second chance for a comic legend.

Here’s the lowdown on the eight comics vying for that accolade:

Stan Boardman

Scouser Stan Boardman’s first foray into showbusiness was when he won a talent show while on holiday at Butlin's.

Further appearances in talent shows, including his TV debut on Hughie Green’s Opportunity Knocks,led to appearances on Seventies stand-up show The Comedians, making him a household name.

He became an occasional face on the chat show circuit, with tales of the Germans and their Fokkers, and hit the pantomime and summer season circuit.

He hit the headlines in 2002 for making racist jokes at a bash at Leeds United, where two players had just stood trial for attacking an Asian student.

When challenged, he sensitively told an Asian heckler: “Fucking hell, I'm being heckled by Pakis now. Why don't you go back to your curry house or shop in Bradford? Your elephant's waiting outside.”

But he seems less happy when its his beloved home town that’s the butt of the jokes, complaining that gags about Scousers being potential thieves  are “outdated, undeserved, and damaging to  the people of Liverpool”.

Earlier this year, he abandoned a stand-up after-dinner performance after just five minutes when he fumbled his punchlines and his jokes fell flat.

Scott Capurro

This arch, acidic gay San Franciscan has surely been recruited to the house to provide biting, catty comments.

His uncompromising, often uncomfortable, material revolves around is loveless gay lifestyle and white trash family background. It won him the Perrier best newcomer prize at Edinburgh in 1994.

The 41-year-old remains a festival favourite – and in typically provocative style this year presented a play confessing his obsessive crush on parent-killer

Last year, an order of Catholic nuns called for him to be banned from Liverpool, saying an X-rated sexual fantasy routine about Jesus was blasphemous.

He’s also written a book, Fowl Play, based on his stand-up routine and appeared in Star Wars; Phantom Menace and Mrs. Doubtfire. Official home page. Chortle page

David Copperfield

Copperfield’s publicty describes him as “best known as one of the trio in BBC’s award-winning Three Of A Kind series alongside Lenny Henry and Tracey Ullman.” In fact, that’s pretty much all he’s known for, and even that's mostly thanks to his Medallion Man creation.

A spin-off Saturday evening show, The Copperfield Comedy Company, only made one episode, as did Laugh Attack – an attempt to create a comedy impression show.

He was last seen on Children’s TV 15 years ago, with  a show called Coppers And Co!

However, his versatility was praised in Three Of A Kind, and his talents include impressions, magic, music (violin, piano, guitar and mandolin), ventriloquism and vocalist – which could come in handy given the varied nature of Kings Of Comedy.

Janey Godley

Brought up in the tough East End of Glasgow, much of Godley’s act involves around true stories from her life.

Her mum was murdered and her body dumped in the canal; her uncle abused her as a child and she had him convicted 30 years later; and she has spent her life surrounded by the consequences  of heroin abuse.

Now 43, she learned most of her comedy skills and crowd control in the tough bar that she owned for 14 years.

This year she became the first woman ever to compere the sometimes unruly late show in Glasonbury Festival’s Cabaret Marquee.

She has a book on the way about her early life, and writes a daily blog on Chortle’s Forums. Her own home page is here, and her Chortle profile is here.

Boothby Graffoe

Born plain Jim Rogers 42 years ago, Boothby Graffoe is the only comic on the circuit named after a Lincolnshire village.

A  singer/songwriter and playwright, his accolades include the Time Out Comedy Award and a Perrier nomination. He first appeared at the Edinburgh festival in 1994 and has been a regular ever since.

His winning laid-back style has won him a raft of television appearances including The Stand-Up Show and Never Mind the Buzzcocks, as well as four series for Radio 4. And, as a stand-up, he’s never been afraid to heckle other acts from the audience – which might add some fun to the Kinhs Of Comedy live shows. Official home page. Chortle page.

Andrew Maxwell

Dublin-born Andrew Maxwell is perhaps most like the stereotype of the alternative comedian producers had in mind when they devised this format. – youngish, T-shirted and slightly laddish. Though his material is a lot sharper, and more insightful, than that first impression might suggest.

He’s appeared on the usual raft of stand-up shows – not to mention The Late Show With David Letterman, and produced an impressive Edinburgh show this year, This Is My Hour. Andrew Maxwell's Chortle page.

Mick Miller

Another Scouse gagsmith who started as an entertainer in the holiday camps and talent shows, with his big break coming after winning the TV show New Faces.

In his youth he was also a keen footballer, and when he was 15, the legendary Stanley Mathews signed him to Port Vale. In 1966 he was called up for an England youth team trial, but lost out Peter Shilton.

He too was a member of Seventies stand-up show The Comedians he’s been a stalwart of the summer season circuit, making the occasional chat show appearance, too.

His CV boasts that he appeared on the front on TV Times… on August 15, 1987 with Bucks Fizz’s Cheryl Baker.

Ava Vidal

By far the least experienced of the octet, Vidal only emerged onto the stand-up circuit a couple of years ago, but is already starting to get noticed.

She got to the finals of the BBC New Comedy Awards within a year of starting on the scene and has appeared in The Crouches for BBC1, Sack Race for BBC2 and Malai Monologues for BBC3.

Her experiences before comedy might also come in handy in the enclosed environment of the Kings Of Comedy house - as she used to be a prison officer.

It’s this experiences, as well as her unique takes on other subjects, that have attracted interest on the live circuit. But can she cut it with seven much more established names...? Ava Vidal's Chortle page.

Published: 3 Oct 2004

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