Julian Clary – Britain’s campest comic and self-confessed “national trinket”, not to mention TV star and author – brings his latest show, cheekily entitled The Joy Of Mincing, to The Astor Theatre on Monday, 12 September. SHANE PINNEGAR got Julian on the phone to discuss life, mincing, and everything else one can cram into fifteen very engaging minutes.
The Joy Of Mincing, the show is called, and mincing certainly seems to have brought Clary a lot of joy and one heck of a career – but he’s quick to point out that there is a serious subtext to the jokey title.
“It does, it’s a funny business, mincing…” Clary muses with a chuckle. “I’ve always put in the title of my shows from the early days – my first ever tour was called Mincing Machine, and there’s been Lord of the Mince, there was Natural Born Mincer, and so on. It’s one those words that I kind of like to think you can reclaim it, because I would have been called a mincer at school as a child as an insult. I think you can turn around these words and turn them to your advantage. I think mincing is – although we know what it is, it’s sort of a funny walk – but really it is a declaration of joy in oneself in the face of disapproval.”
It wouldn’t have been too long ago in Australia where people weren’t particularly tolerant of mincing or homosexuality in general. Clary confirms that he has seen a huge shift in attitudes over the years.
“Oh, yes – yes, I have. Because I was born in the ’50s – well, ’59 – and growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, yes, people were ignorant and people were frightened of homosexuality, I think to a degree. It was only because they didn’t understand it and it was just fear of the unknown, whereas now it’s been demystified a lot and people are very accepting and tolerant. Over here in my mother country, of course, we have equal marriage and things, so that’s a definite signal that things are better than they were.”
Clary protests that his flamboyant stage persona is quite unlike the real him, not that every fan understands that.
“Oh, I don’t think I’m like that at all!” he exclaims demurely. “Like a lot of comedians, I’m quite introverted most of the time. I think what you do on the stage is you kind of take an aspect of yourself and magnify it, that’s sort of what performing is in a way. I’m the person sitting quietly in the corner most of the time.
“[Fans] often want you to say something funny or be what they think – which I quite understand why they might think that. I’m usually very polite but slightly standoffish. I actually don’t mind on a day-to-day basis, it’s quite reassuring for me to [have] people come up and say something complimentary – that’s quite a nice aspect of my life. I don’t dislike it, I just don’t really play the game.”
Does he find that Australian audiences laugh at the same things as English audiences?
“Yes, only more so!” Clary enthuses. “I find Australian audiences very extrovert as far as one can generalise, and kind of out for a good time. There’s a sort of sense of occasion, I find. You [Australians] often come out in big groups and you’re very good at enjoying yourselves and you’re very good at partying and all the things we know Australians do well. You kind of start there at higher up the scale of enjoyment it seems. It’s very healthy and very handy for a comedian.”
Talking to the Prince of double entendres, I couldn’t help but give one a go myself, and, being a fellow dog lover, remember he used to often perform with his pet whippet, Fanny the Wonder Dog. So, Julian – do you still have a Fanny?
“No. If she was still alive that would be in the Guinness Book of Records,” he replies, taking the attempted joke in his stride with barely a smirk. “She died – how long ago, about eighteen years ago – and she was nineteen when she died. No, she has passed over to the great beyond, and my current dog is called Albert, and he is sitting next to me, fast asleep, slightly horrified that I’m up at this time.”
Does he feel that he’s got the art of telling smutty double entendres down to a fine art yet?
“Well after thirty years I think you kind of have your double entendre vocabulary quite well-honed. I kind of think in double entendres all the time, even if I don’t express them. Yeah, I think it’s like if you are a weight lifter then you use certain muscles and they get bigger and bigger and stronger and stronger, and similarly with comedy muscles, if you like: if you keep using them over a long period of time then they’re very ready to spring into action at a moment’s notice.”
For tickets and more info on Julian Clary appearing at The Astor Theatre, Perth on Monday, September 12 head to astortheatreperth.com.
This story was originally published on 100% ROCK MAGAZINE.