Age hasn’t mellowed controversial stand-up comedian Roy Chubby Brown, but the world has changed a lot in the last 40 years and is this generation of “politically correct” hand-wringers ready for an all out Roy Chubby Brown assault?
The man who used to use blatant racism in his material has naturally had to tone it right down for a more modern audience, but does that mean compromising his comedic integrity? After all, many people refuse to clean up their acts, as it were, for anybody.
Quays News’ Teresa McMahon caught up with the legendary (and he is legendary, whether you like it or not) comedian to chat racism, groping women, and political-correctness-gone-mad.
“[The world] is far too politically correct,” Says the comic, “I came from an era where you could say what you wanted. Nowadays you’re being censored and edited and they don’t know what you’re all about.”
Indeed, political correctness didn’t exist in the era Roy came from.
Born Royston Vasey (The famous League of Gentleman fictional town is named in his honour) in Middlesborough just as the Second World War had come to a close, times were tough. Roy left home at 14 and spent time in borstal – a young offenders institution – and prison. He joined the navy and bounced from job to job till he found his niche as an entertainer in Working Men’s Clubs in the 50s and early 60s.
And while his particular brand of comedy might not be for everyone, it hasn’t stopped him making a very nice living out of it.
“When you come from my background – and I’ve been in prison, I’ve been a fighter, and a bouncer – and that era was cruel, and it was sarcastic, and underhanded, and dangerous and you took the consequences. I used the experiences from that era and turned it into my material.
“But if there wasn’t a market for it, I wouldn’t do it. I do it for financial gain.”
He’s famously – or rather infamously – politically incorrect in his shows. But he says this is a misconception; it’s not him who’s racist and bigoted, it’s Roy Chubby Brown:
“In no way am I a racist,” He says. “If you told me a joke about a thalidomide wasp with piles and a glass eye and a wooden leg, and I think it’s funny, I’ll tell that joke to my friends. It doesn’t mean I’m against wasps.
“I’m just a guy from a council estate who’s telling funny jokes and the character I’ve developed gets away with it and it earns me a living. I just point out the cultural differences between people.
“People who take it all seriously have no sense of humour. I go to the gym everyday with Asian people and West Indians and that. My family have coloured people coming [to the house] all the time and they know what uncle Chubby does.
“They got through the Second World War with humour. If you’re a dwarf or a midget, or you’re thin, fat or obese, are we not allowed to talk about it anymore? Are we all going to keep our mouths shut? Are we not allowed to have fun anymore? That’s not going to happen because there isn’t enough room in the prisons to lock everybody up.”
Chubby Brown is from the old-school and was firmly cemented in celebrity circles in the 70s and 80s. So what does he make of these historical sex abuse cases that have been hitting the headline over the last few years?
“Well people will jump on the bandwagon for anything wont they?” He continues, “I mean, the serious offences absolutely have to be investigated, of course. But stupid things like feeling a girl’s breast!
“When we were young lads we did that all the time: a night out at the dancehall on a Friday night, trying to and get a grope of a woman was the highlight of your week and you went to work the next day and told everybody. That’s how times have changed; you can’t go near them now. You can’t speak to them.”
Chubby Brown is back in Manchester tonight, December 17, and he loves the city: “Every year I do the Apollo and I always look forward to it because they love me there and I love them.”
“I remember the early days when you were talking to yourself and you could hear your footsteps – even if you didn’t have shoes on your feet.
“I always look forward to it. There’re always a lot of celebrities there. Last time I was there Ricky Hatton and Wayne Rooney were in the audience.”
Roy Chubby Brown Hangs Up the Helmet Live out now on DVD
By Teresa McMahon