Bill Bailey Profile

He calls himself "part troll" but he's also dubbed himself "a kind of klingon". However you see him, Bill Bailey is as funny as his hair is unfortunate. Which is to say he's a very funny man indeed.

Bill Bailey

As the self-styled 'bug-eyed wizard of comedy' Bill Bailey combines meandering tales with gigantic, bizarre leaps of logic. His subjects swing through a whole galaxy of weirdness, from geopolitical theories, to snack food (Pringle sandwich anyone?) and theoretical astrophysics. He's been voted the 7th funniest stand-up on three separate occasions, and if that doesn't convince you of his funny bone tickling prowess then just look at him. No, he's genuinely a human.

Bill is renowned for his hilarious songs about anything and everything: Zip-a-di-do-da as performed by Portishead, a rave version of the BBC News theme, the hokey cokey via Kraftwerk or a drum 'n' bass remix of George Bush's speeches. He can play more instruments than you can name and is so good he'll have you weeping into your copy of Recorder for Dummies.

Of course his musical beginning were fairly humble, he started off in a band called The Famous Fives, who he admits were terrible and only had four members. Luckily he refined his skills and is now a classically trained musician, which he can add to his CV, along with being part-troll and Klingon.

In 1989, Bill formed a double act called the Rubber Bishops, but abandoned it to write his first Edinburgh festival show, Rock, a collaboration comedian Sean Lock. In 1995, he did his first one-man show, Bill Bailey's Cosmic Jam. It won the Time Out award at the festival. The next year, his show won the festival's Critic's Award, and was filmed and aired as a special on Channel 4. And, in 1999, he won a British Comedy Award for Best Live Stand-up. He also lost out on the Perrier award to future partner Dylan Moran in the closest vote in the award's history. It's OK though - Black Books would later make everything alright again between the two. If you count what happened to Manny as alright, of course...

For all his success, Bill once made a serious effort to quit stand up. The realisation that his life was whacked out came one late night on the motorway when he discovered he had driven around so much that he had favourite motorway services. After that ghastly low-point he quit and took a job selling ad space in a magazine. One argument with his boss about wearing a tie to work later, and he was back on the comedy circuit where he belonged. Without a tie, naturally.

TV success soon followed with QI, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Spaced, The Stand-Up-Show and his own series, Is it Bill Bailey? The movies also favour a funny man, and he's appeared in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (as the voice of Sperm Whale) and Saving Grace. But his biggest, and funniest TV role to date is as Manny in Black Books. He got the part through the Channel 4 Sitcom Festival, where he agreed to appear in a skit with Dylan Moran (Bernard Black). It worked so well that Moran sat down and wrote the idea up into a series with the co-creator of Father Ted, Graham Linehan.

More recently Bill's starred in Skins and his own wildlife documentary, (no, not a wildlife documentary about him) Baboons with Bill Bailey. Currently he's back on the road touting all things musical, including headlining this year's Sonisphere festival. When he's not being a musical and comedy genius, Bill is a patron for International Animal Rescue, an outspoken feminist and is also part of a whole load of other good stuff that makes us feel like we're terrible, terrible people. But at least we are clearly people, unlike this hilarious woodland beast of a man...

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