Sunday, 16 September 2007

Biography 10: Phill Jupitus

Phill Jupitus, the second most frequent guest on QI, becomes the focus of this week's blog.

Phill's career in entertainment began in 1984 when he quit his job in a DHSS job centre to become 'Porky the Poet'. For the rest of the 80's he focussed on his performance poetry and moving into the music industry. This included supporting Billy Bragg in the Red Wedge tour and directing a couple of music videos, one of which was nominated for a Brit award. These experiences have certainly been valuable to Phill's comedy career.

Only in 1989 when Phill quit his job at Go! Discs did he begin to concentrate on a comedic career. Whilst he earned his reputation on the London comedy circuit and TV show warm ups, Phill continued to dip back into the music industry. In 1995 he started a show on Greater London Radio which would last until 2000. However, his true break into comedy came courtesy of Never Mind the Buzzcocks on which he has been a team captain since its creation in 1996. His music knowledge made him the ideal man for the job. The show gave him regular TV exposure that fledgling comedians like himself could only dream of.

During the late 1990's Phill had two UK tours. The first Jedi, Steady, Go was a comedic retelling of the Star Wars trilogy. The second called Quadrophobia discussed his many fears like arachnophobia as well as near-death experiences.

Phill made his first appearance on QI in the series A Christmas special (A12) and he been a panellist on 16 occasions. This included 5 in series D, the most of any guest in one series. Jupitus is well known on the show for his impressions of the 'upper-class Fry' which are performed with a superb toffs' accent. Despite the frequency of his appearances he has only won one episode (B03).

Perhaps the reason that Jupitus has been so successful on QI is his renowned improvisation skills. Phill tours with the Big City Improv a comedy troupe that asks the audience to provide subjects around which they create sketches on the spot. He also makes regulars guest performances on the radio 4 show I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue.

This year Phill has moved into a new medium. He has co-written and starred in the play Waiting For Alice. In the play which ran at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, he and Andre Vincent play Tweedledee and Tweedledum from the book Through the Looking Glass. Both Andre Vincent and Phill Jupitus claim that people regularly confuse them for each other, hence why they hit on the idea of playing twins. The play focuses on the 69 years they have been waiting for Alice to turn up for them to perform their part. The two of them take it in turn to play the the two different roles, switching for each performance. Jupitus claims that the play was largely the idea of Vincent but that his poetic background gave him the skills to produce the strong script.

Phill will return for another 4 episodes of series E of QI. His first episode will be E03 to broadcast on 5th October.

No comments: