26 January 2015

1968 Radio Times article

Recently for sale on ebay, here is the text of a 1968 Radio Times article by Brian Finch publicising Freddie's radio series The Golden Parrot Club. Click on above image to enlarge or read the full text below:

With a bowler hat, saucer eyes, and a lisp -

Parrotface Freddie

Introducing another lively edition of The Golden Parrot Club on Saturday night is Freddie Davies. Here, Brian Finch talks to the young man who is rapidly emerging as one of our brightest comics

The TROUBLE with comedians is, of course, that they almost always disappoint you when you meet them - through no fault of their own.

I mean, you don't really want to meet the real Frankie Howerd, do you? You want to be buttonholed by that rubber-faced goon who has just had the place in an uproar with his hilarious remarks about 'Thing.'

You don't really want to talk to a sane Tommy Cooper. You simply want him to do the maniacal laugh for you, and then go into another of those egg-tricks that you just know is going to go wrong.

And Freddie (Mr. Parrotface) Davies is no exception. 'There was this parrot you sold me that had no legs,' you want him to say, pulling an oversized bowler over his ears. 'You said it had been defeated in a fight ...'

But it simply never works out that way. For Samuel Tweet, with his duff budgies and explosive lisp, and the real-life Freddie Davies are worlds apart.

Freddie Davies is a small, quiet, business-like young man who talks about the jokes that are rapidly making him famous like a joiner discussing a new plane.

'I know the strength of every joke in the act,' he says dispassionately. ' That isn't to say that I can predict the way it is going to go over. You can never do that. But I do know how strong it is. And I use a joke as long as it is getting laughs. When the laughs stop coming, I know that I've got all the mileage out of it I can, and I drop it.

'There's always a great temptation to stick to the same old gags, but doing that is death in this profession. You have to introduce new material. That's the worst moment in a comedian's life - introducing a new gag into the act that you haven't tried before.'

The bird jokes — which started, according to Freddie Davies, when a woman in a certain Northern Club challenged him to tell one about a budgie, and when he did the audience howled — get the same merciless scrutiny as the rest of his material. They remain something of a mystery, even to Freddie.

'I don't know why they go over so well. Maybe it's not because they're budgie jokes as such. Maybe it's because people like the character of Samuel Tweet who tells them. I mean, as Samuel Tweet I tell lots of gags about things other than budgies that work very well.'

Freddie and his family have one budgie at home — 'Its name is Cheeky, and it is, of course, very, very duff.'

Comedians run in Freddie Davies's family. His grandfather, Jack Herbert, was a music-hall comedian of some ability.

Freddie himself made his stage debut in a Pendleton pantomime as a gnome at the age of seven and never really wanted to be anything else in life but a comic.

After doing National Service with the Royal Army Pay Corps, he worked with the Co-op for a while, but his heart wasn't in it.

'The trouble was getting started, says Freddie. 'After all, nowadays, there aren't really many music-halls left where a comedian can serve his apprenticeship.'

Des O'Connor solved that problem for him. He was appearing in a show at the Empire Theatre, Newcastle, and Freddie went backstage to ask his advice about becoming a comedian. O'Connor advised him to do what he did — work at Butlins as a Redcoat.

'It was about the best move I ever made. I did Just about everything at that camp — from tombola to clowning. But more than anything else I learned the business.

'After all if it rained one of my jobs was to make people laugh. And if you can make a bunch of wet campers laugh at ten o'clock in the morning you're already halfway to becoming a comedian.'

Find out more in Freddie Davies's autobiography Funny Bones, available from amazon (paperback) or direct from Scratching Shed Publishing (paperback or limited edition hardback); read an extract here.