Jim Tavare'
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Jim Tavare'

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The best kept secret in music

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Published Date: 19 October 2007
By DARREN SCOTT
THERE aren't many people who can say they've tended a bar for wizards or broken the ice between the Queen and Camilla.
Fortunately comedian Jim Tavare takes such things in his stride. Well, that is when he's not struggling to carry a double bass.

"I always have it on stage, but I never play it," he explains of the act, which sees him adopting the tails and white

tie formal attire of a classical musician.

"So it's not easy to get to Edinburgh because I have to travel with this huge thing. Obviously the Festival is great as I'm there for three weeks and I don't have to carry it to the venue every night."

As part of his latest tour, Tavare brings his comedy show A History of Violins to The Stand. He explains that he was due to perform at the Festival, but had to cancel when his son got ill. Fortunately he's now fully recovered and the show will at last reach its intended audience.

"I miss the Edinburgh vibe and there's so many good venues up there now I just want to experience them," he says. "I've never performed at The Stand before but people tell me it's good.

"It's a brand new stand-up show and it's pretty much silly seriousness. I take my silliness quite seriously."

The 43-year-old began his career as an actor, having trained at RADA, but turned to a career in comedy when a friend suggested he try out at the famous Comedy Store in London's Soho. These days he's covering all bases.

"I've always considered myself an amateur musician, professional comedian and unemployed actor and if you put these three things together you get my act," he explains. "I try to be original all the time and not cover old ground, like going to Amsterdam on my holidays or aeroplanes.

"I do loads of jokes about kids recorders and I actually get quite a bit of recognition for that. We all did that at school," he deadpans.

He's also famously known for being Prince Charles' favourite comedian. "There was a gap there to be filled when Spike Milligan died," he quips. "I did three gigs for him that year. He saw me at the Royal Variety Show and booked me. That was the first time Camilla met the Queen. I was booked to break the ice."

But the presence of a couple of Royals didn't faze him. In fact, he explains, there were several Royals in attendance.

"There were 13 crowned heads of Europe there and I got talking to them afterwards. They were like any other audience. I said to one person: 'Sorry, who are you?' and he said 'The King of Norway.' Not the easiest of gigs but certainly something to tell the grandchildren," he laughs.

But what of HRH herself?

"It was a very informal affair, a barbecue, so when you see the Queen sitting there it was like Gran or something," he says. "They said 'look, the Queen's seen every comedian, she's not interested, don't look at her' and she was genuinely laughing. At the end she very kindly asked to speak to me and suddenly everyone decided they wanted to speak to me."

These days though, it's not just Royalty that are crowding him, it's children and sci-fi geeks too, following a role as the innkeeper in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

"It does give you added credibility with the kids. It was brilliant taking the kids down there and meeting Severus Snape in the canteen," he says. "I was excited to get a part in a film, then when I looked up the character he was a bald, hunchback, toothless wizened walnut. I had to come to terms with that.

"I occasionally get asked to do sci-fi signings. I didn't think there'd be any interest in a bit-part from Harry Potter but people like to collect all the obscure people as well," he laughs.

He admits he did scour the final book to see if his character would return, but following the tour he's looking forward to a run in London, which, he says, is nice as he's never been offered that before.

"It's not all light-hearted," he says of his routine. "I get to be dangerous at times. If that's possible from a man with a tail-suit and a double bass."

• Jim Tavare, The Stand, Tuesday, 7.30pm, £10 (£8), 0131-558 7272 - The Living Scotsman


FINALIST JIM TAVARE:

What was your first solo stand-up gig?
At a sleazy comedy venue called The Tunnel Club in East London. They had this thing called "The Get Jim Tavaré Off in Under Three Minutes" spot.

What is your worst nightmare as a comic while performing on stage? Has it happened?
Doing a gig in Siberia and having an interpreter stand next to me. Each joke would take him a lifetime to translate and the audience still didn't laugh. It happened to me in 2005 at an arts festival in Khanty Mansiisk, Siberia.

At what age did you realize you were funny? Why? Tell us the story.
At age eight when I looked in the mirror and thought, "You look ridiculous."

Who are your comic influences? What are your comedic influences?
Peter Cook, Tommy Cooper, Victor Borge, Mitch Hedberg, Steven Wright, Woody Allen.

What is the worst job you have ever had?
Being a comic is both the worst and the best job I have ever had. Winning International Starsearch was good. Driving to Scotland for a gig, breaking down in subzero temperatures, and then being robbed was bad. Actually, I once worked in a haulage company unloading trucks at a depot. Even the best part of that job was worse than the bad bits of being a comedian. My nickname was Gonzo because I had supposedly had bad ideas all the time. I used to tell my co- workers I had plans to leave the depot and become a comedian. They kept saying "You'll be back, Gonzo, you'll be back." One day I asked one of the drivers for a lift out of the place and never went back. I still have nightmares about comedy not working out and having to go back to work in that depot.

What are some of your favorite television shows? Movies?
Anything with me in it. That includes "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" and "Wings."

What do you hope to gain by becoming the Last Comic Standing?
I'm looking forward to acquiring the Honda Pilot because I need something to live in while I'm in America.

Most embarrassing moment? Have you recovered?
Having an impromptu jamming session with some other residents in the lobby of The Holiday Inn, LA without realizing they were members of Nirvana.

Give us your best "knock knock" joke.
Knock knock. Who's there? Your agent. But I haven't heard from you in three years. Yes, but now that you are doing "Last Comic Standing" I'm suddenly interested again.

What is the worst question you have ever been asked in an interview?
Would you mind stepping out of the vehicle and walking in a straight line? - http://www.nbc.com


'As dry as a critics mouth in the morning' The Times (London) 'I didn't want this hysterical show to end' NY Times 'Laugh out loud funny!' The Daily Mail (London) 'Fresh, funny and without a trace of elitism' BBC - Internet


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Bio

Jim Tavare's deadpan style has won over audiences throughout Europe, Australia and the USA - where in 2008 he came fourth in a coast to coast TV contest for The Last Comic Standing.
Joined onstage by Bassie (a double bass), Jim's one-liners and visual gags have won him many fans. He is a hugely talented comedian who combines comedy with music 'to explosive effect'. He works entirely clean and is suitable for a wide ranging audience demographic from corporates to colleges. His act tailors to each audience whether in a stadium theatre or small comedy club. Jim has been described as the new Victor Borge of the Double Bass.
In the UK Jim is Known to be Prince Charles' favourite comedian, He has entertained the Royal Family on many occasions. The most nerve-racking was a party at Highgrove to celebrate the 60th birthday of the King of Greece. Among the audience were HM The Queen and no less than thirteen crowned heads of Europe.
He is internationally known as Tom the Innkeeper from the blockbuster movie: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
He performed at the ‘Just For Laughs Festival’ in Montreal where he caught the attention of NBC producers in the US. This lead to an episode of the long running comedy series ‘Wings’ being written around his act. He entered ‘International Starsearch’ and won, beating out Margaret Cho. He has had two series of ‘The Jim Tavaré Show’ on BBC TV which he co-wrote with Ricky Gervais who also starred. He won a BAFTA award for his part writing and appearing in ‘The Sketch Show’, a show which later aired in the US on FOX as ‘Kelsey Grammer Presents The Sketch Show’.