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A rare audience with original comedy nutjob

Edinburgh Fringe Review

Did anyone else bury deep the memory of Charlie Chuck’s shambolic, barking contributions to the careers of Reeves and Mortimer? As the familiar hangdog horror drifts stage-wards, one is struck by the realisation that you’re all paying to spend an hour in the company of a shifty bus stop mentalist (brandishing an ominous length of wood) whom you would ordinarily go to great pains to avoid. Between Tourettes outbursts, Chuck wrestles free various garbled rants, equal parts unfettered wisdom, contrary comedy and bewildering dead-ended statements in a flawless performance. If there really is a perfectly well-adjusted comedy actor under the Hendrix bouffant and dishevelled tuxedo he certainly deserves wider acclaim.

The show is a two-hander and the narrative, at first apparently superfluous, soon reveals a necessary foil to the weathered northerner’s outpatient antics. Admittedly not to everyone’s taste and crashing in cack-handed at only two thirds its billed hour, it is all the more mystifying that there is still room for such a wealth of observation, heartbreak and raw fear packed into a show that still comes good with the laughs.

For most of the Fringe run, Charlie is going to play with the Uncle Peter Band, perform magic tricks Tommy Cooper would not have dared, reminisce about Reeves & Mortimer, act extracts from Doctor Faustus (yup, THAT Doctor Faustus) and possibly talk seriously about life, the universe and anything - although, fair.

by Mark Edmundson
16 August 2009

Leicester Comedy Festival Review

A group of adults with learning difficulties is performing with a top comic as part of the Leicester Comedy Festival.

Professional stand-up Charlie Chuck, who has been in TV appearances with Vic Reeves, will take to the stage with residents from a care home in Shangton, near Market Harborough. The show, called Don't Be Afraid to Try, includes songs and jokes.

Comedian Charlie, who lives in Leicester, has been running drama classes for over a year and worked with the team from Care Shangton at the Edinburgh Festival in August. He said: "I was looking for a different vocation and, although I still do professional shows, this has been a great career change. It's a good way to let people know what goes on here at Shangton." Care, set up in 1966, offers homes and day services for adults with learning difficulties across the UK.

In the show, residents choose songs to sing. Between the songs, Charlie joins in with some comedy. John Davey, 55, who lives at Care's group home in Market Harborough, will be singing Elvis Presley's Welcome to My World. He said: "It's one from my record collection." Katherine McGann, 27, will perform her favourite Boyzone numbers. She said: "My songs make Charlie's jokes sound funnier." Jayne Gibson, 45, is looking forward to belting out Power of Love. "I'm not nervous about going on stage," she said. "I want to go back to Edinburgh again this year." Care's community fund-raiser Katherine Brown said of the show, which has been made into a DVD: "Since Charlie set up his drama group, everyone has wanted to be involved, and going to Edinburgh and doing a seven-night run served as a confidence boost for everyone."

The show is on February 16 at the sports hall at Care, which is on the B6047 Melton Road, at Shangton.

by Tom Mack
This is Leicestershire | Leicester Mercury
21 January 2006

Comedy 5 Star!

Edinburgh Fringe Review

The Chuck comes of age. Concerned parties had been whispering that he had blown it. Was he doomed to quietly fade into obscurity as the "Uncle Peter" footnote in the Reeves & Mortimer chapter on great British comedy?

Dream on. Charlie's first full-length Fringe show is a triumph of insanity, a tour de farce that establishes him as the unchallenged idiot savant of comedy. The hits are all there, the drum-demolition, the "d'yer want a cup of tea?" mantra and the classic "cream bun" routine (chanted back at stage verbatim by the hardcore Chuckophiles in the front row), but there's a new dimension to the show these days.

The previously only hinted-at Chuck universe has been expanded with the help of Mike Wattam as the leathery farmhand Jud, and the Chucks own daughter (you can tell she's a Chuck by the way she dances) as 'Edie Wakefield' (don't ask).

The end result is a bizarre dysfunctional family with a nasty habit of spitting Sugar Puffs all over the shop. Don't try and analyse it, don't try and float any theories about chuck being the outlet for the madness that lurks within us all, a lone voice bellowing "donkey" from the brink. Just accept that here is a man who is mind-alteringly funny. It's enough.

by Tom Lappin
The Music Box | The Scotsman

Vicious joke from a comic monster

Edinburgh Fringe Review

Charlie Chuck's very presence is an exercise in hyperbole. He looks like some kind of Dickensian monstrosity. His expression - a mixture of dementia, confusion and detachment - is so set that you get an unreal feeling of watching a moving grotesquery rather than a person. He milks the weirdness well; bawling out poems in an angry voice (Jack went up the hill/To get something to eat/Jack sat on a razor blade/Gillette), being cornered by a philosphical cat, stomping around like a stiff-limbed bedlam loony and sustaining a distance between himself and his humour. Despite the music hall resonances, Chuck's act charges along at a modern pace and achieves what so many try and fail; sustained surrealism. An indescribable treat.

by Stewart Hennesey
Scotland on Sunday
September 3, 1995

The Charlie Chuck Show! @ Venue 50

It would take a brave should to come up with a category for Charlie Chuck, though. Familiar to fans of The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer, shock-haired Chuck inhabits a comic universe - nay, universe of his own, a world of veiled significances and a lot of shouting, where drum kits suffer death by being beaten with a hefty plank and jokes never reach their destination.

An acquired taste, but addictive, especially once you've mastered Chuck's act and can chant, mantra-like, all his material along with him.

by Helen Hawkins
The Sunday Times

Edinburgh Fringe Review

The last few years have been good for former mainstream comic turned bizarre comedy cult Charlie Chuck.

Now he has an accomplished full one hour show in which he shows he can do more than just the cake-pig-donkey-cup-of-tea-and-that-cream-bun-over stuff. Opening with the drum kit stick he gives the punters what they expect for most of the first section. The introduction of the rest of the Chuck family (Mike Wattan and Keely Kear, Chuck's daughter) is followed by horoscopes, magic, song and dance numbers and Buckets of Shite, a game show. He then does something really weird and this is not the regular woofers bark strange stuff. He does an old fashioned Butlin's type routine and goes down a storm. There isn't anyone else around who can mix mainstream and alternative with such panache.

by Russel Nash
The Music Box | The Scotsman

Comedy Night Review

Black Horse Hotel, Otley

A newly refurbished function room complete with bar and candlelit tables provided a relaxed setting for this month's comedy night, held at The Black Horse Hotel in Otley.

The new venue is spot-on for a comedy club, and the comics who hosted Charlie Chuck's Laughter Lounge on Sunday hit the mark too. Compere Karen Bayley led the way with observational and ballsy humour. A tough job to warm up a cold (and sober) audience but she earned her laughs and won the room over. Support act Alfie Joey had an easier time. His enthusiasm was infectious and his impressions ö including a memorable Bruce Forsythe had the audience charmed. It was impossible not to like him and he had the audience so relaxed they joined him for a game of bingo. Headliner Brendan Riley was very funny. His topical humour included the bizarre image of Saddam Hussein being introduced to a Liverpudlian bird, and his more general Scouse observations were a hit with the crowd. The Laughter Lounge is a breath of fresh air and a totally different night out. The line-up of comics for the coming months is seriously impressive, and the current venue is an ideal environment in which to enjoy them. The next gig is on Sunday, November 28 and will be headlined by Steve Harris, an all rapping, singing and dancing ex-bouncer. He has featured on many television programmes and is a festival regular. The fantastic Billy Bedlam will support Steve. For those who had the pleasure of seeing Billy performing his mad musical instruments at The Courthouse earlier this year, then nothing needs to be said. For those who didn't, don't miss him this time. The evening will be compered by Ryan Gough, a six foot five, 19 stone ball of energy, who can apparently get even the shyest audience singing along to theme tunes from adverts.

by Rachel Burns

Charlie Chuck's Laughter Lounge

Black Horse Hotel, Otley

OTLEY'S comedy club crowd didn't know what had hit them when comedian Freaks Outing hit them with a truly weird array of costumed characters. His rapping miner went down a storm followed by a truly incredible all singing, all dancing grim reaper. Freaks Outing was the support act of the night but there was nothing second rate about his act. Following his bizarre cabaret of death, the crowd were treated to a holiday camp style crooner with a difference and his own musical take on Star Trek. By the time he appeared in a basque, the audience were laughing before he'd opened his mouth.

It's a very clever act. His humour is pretty black but presented in such a likeable way by such a likeable character, there was slim chance of anyone taking offence.

His style was original to say the least and again shows the sheer variety that this club is providing. What is consistent about the Laughter Lounge is the quality of the acts and the feedback from the audience that they can't believe there is a night like this on offer in the town.

Headliner Anthony J Brown has appeared in Channel 4's Phoenix Nights. He was also runner up in the BBC1 New Comedy Award 2000 at the Edinburgh Festival. He has perfected a unique performance style - perhaps an acquired taste.

His act is very stylised, his delivery slow and deadpan. But he was winning the initially bemused crowd over. Again his material was pretty dark but he drew the audience in as they sussed that his seriousness was only leading up to some very funny punchlines.

Compere Colin Ward delivered the goods yet again with his genuinely funny and occasionally silly one-liners. A favourite from this gig - "did you hear about the agoraphobic skinhead starting a fight? He shouts 'Oi u! Inside!'"

Colin is creating his own fan base at the Laughter Lounge and it's well deserved. His likable, warm manner is ideal for a compere. Though he will be absent from the next gig, do not fear - he will be back for the following one.

An Interview prior to an appearance at Neptune Comedy Club, Liverpool.

"I'd say it was the best moment of my life, that" says a misty eyed Charlie Chuck. "I was doing my act with Paul McCartney sitting ten feet away, and he was laughing his head off. I've got a photo of me with Paul, and in ten years I'll be able to give that to my kids and say "that's your dad with Paul McCartney. Cos he'll be seen like Mozart or Bach by then, won't he?"

Steady Charlie. Just occasionally, the man with the wildest hair in comedy seems to slip dangerously towards the insane world inhabited by his stage character, the loony bloke who SHOUTS a lot and is best known as Uncle Peter from The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer. It seems that his gut-bustlingly funny brand of stand-up and his unique catchphrases (DONKEY! WOOF BARK! and I'LL TELL YER THAT! angst others) appealed to the sensibilities of one Paul McCartney, who used to be in a little-known pop combo from around these parts. After seeing Charlie on Sky Starsearch, Paul asked hime to appear at his daughters birthday party. Linda didn't do the catering, did she Charlie? "Oh yes," chuckles Chuck, "veggie sausages everywhere. Lovely, though. I won't have a word said against any of the McCartneys - they're all such lovely people."

Interviewing Charlie is a strange experience. His agent had assured me that he always speaks to journalists in character, but when I chat to him he's a genial, friendly soul, miles away from the loon-faced aggression of his alter-ego. And yet, something about him suggests he could click back into CAKEY PIG! mode at any time. In fact, he's the first to admit that it's not really a character at all; just another side of his own personality.

"It comes from my mam and dad originally," he explains. "My mam used to talk gobbled-gook all the time, 'knickaknacka-spickyspacky-spoodleoodleoo', things like that; and my dad, well, the catchphrases were just the way he talked. He was always saying 'what the 'ell are yer telling me that for?' or shouting out things that didn't quite make sense. He was as daft as a brush really."

Charlie's encounter with Macca wasn't his first brush with the pop world. He began his showbiz career as a drummer, and supported the like of The Small faces and Joe Cocker. "Even then I was a bit of a nutcase on stage," he remembers. "It was a psychedelic band, though, so that was ok."
After that he drifted into acting and comedy, gradually developing the persona that wandered into the hearts and minds of the nation via more than 150 appearances on The James Whale Show. After two series with Vic and Bob, he's found himself a larger following that ever before, which was reflected in the success of his sell-out Edinburgh Festival show ("It went alright," understates Charlie). Now he's bringing the show to the Neptune Comedy Club (28 September), where he promises a night of "music, magic and mayhem. Nutty tunes and things. Mike Wattings (the 'booze for baby' man from Reeves and Mortimer) and my daughter, Edie Wakefield, will be there too. Er, you'd better ask my agent about the rest - I don't really know what's going on."

See, he really is like that all the time. A unique and utterly irrepressible comedy talent. I'll tell yer that.

Charlie lookalikes will multiply the laughs

Preview of appearance at City Varieties, Leeds.

Audiences in Leeds will be left chuckling in their seats when they see not only one but 25 Charlie Chuck lookalikes when frizzy-haired comedian - star of the popular Reeves and Mortimer show - takes to the stage.

Organisers of Chuck's appearance at the City Varieties on Saturday are looking for a front row of punters who are game for a laugh and willing to dress up as the madcap character, alias David Kear.
In return they will be given free seats for the performance - which is planned to be made into a video for character, Chuck.

Charlie Chuck, pictured, started his working life as an upholsterer in Margate, Leeds, and was a drummer in a band before turning professional as a comedian.

The man behind the character, David, a miner's son from Burmantofts, Leeds, is currently working on a new series of Reeves and Mortimer which will be out soon, but in the meantime his one night show seems set to be a rib tickling hit.

If you are totally mad or just insane enough to don a wig and play the part of Charlie Chuck, then contact the City Varieties to book a front row seat - but be warned - only lookalikes will be allowed to sit there on the night.