I told a friend on Monday morning that I’d been to see a Never Mind the Buzzcocks team captain in the flesh…at the Fringe…for free. He replied in half shrug, that in his opinion Noel Fielding was no Sean Hughes, though in the same breath conceded that catching a Mighty Bush for gratis was something of a coup.
I went on to tell him that I’d shaken his large, moist hand in the foyer of the Jam House as I slipped my loose change into his blue mop bucket, and that he’d called me “darlin” in his thanks. “Got a bit fresh with you did he, that Noel one?” I’m surprised – knowing him as I do – that he didn’t loiter on the moist. I divulged that in the previous hour to the, eh, moist, he’d entertained a roomful with his grouchy, warm anecdotes and insightful wordsmithing under the touring moniker of Porky the Poet in the Zietgeist Limbo. “Put on a bit of weight has he? Looking a bit rough since the Bush had its day, hmm?” “No, you bloody fool,” I had to take myself out of my own misery, “It was Jupitus, Phill Jupitus. You know the chubby, chunky, grizzly one? Jupitus.” “He looks like he’d have a moist hand, that Jupitus one.”
I switched to my more easy going, less critical friend, the one with better listening skills to finish off how the show had gone. So Jupitus takes his place on stage, I say, in front of where we’re sat in the second row, in a room which incidentally was used as the BBC Scotland concert hall back in the day. Jupitus tells us this later on. We’re also privy to learning Charles Dickens did recordings here. Winston Churchill too. The space around us takes on an ooh check the history edge to it. We’re all impressed. Jupitus carries his props in his blue bucket; a yellow ringbinder, an electronic tablet and a small, black moleskin book. Attired in denim jacket, chinos and Converse runners he carries the air of a man off the telly who doesn’t need to try too hard and has only one good suit, synchronised for weddings and funerals.
He has an issue with the lighting from the off, does Jupitus. We’re too bright. Without pulling a J-Lo diva moment he shouts to an invisible lighting man could he flick the dimmer. No voice comes forth in reply but the harsh illumination disappears and we the audience are blazed in soft, blue neon. Jupius calls it sexy and self-depricates how easy he now is on the eye. There’s no snazzy backdrop, flashing beams, nor intro music – though I wouldn’t have had Jupitus down as an Eye of the Tiger run-in kind of guy right enough. He’s off the telly you know.
And the show commences in earnest… Jupitus holds up the right to be a fat Mod in denial with his aptly titled, Fat Mods. …With shuffling Hush Puppies…their Parka’s are bursting with more than the breeze, their Gola bags groaning with Motown and cheese. The piece could’ve been written for half the male crowd at this summer’s Stone Roses gig at Glasgow Green. The finishing tagline is Live like a fat Mod, til death do us dance.
He’s in the groove now, after a few anecdotes to ease in those who’ve never seen NMTB, and don’t necessarily know he’s off the telly. Yet not in an am off the telly, don’t you know type way. He tells us the show will be split in two with a Scouser called Slinky taking the stage by way of support act. I happened to turn round at that moment to catch the confused eye of a woman who’d supposedly read the bill wrong and her image of a human slinky act was not about to come to fruition.
Jupitus speaks of his love of the Free Fringe and support of it, hence his presence. He confesses to the titillation he found looking at the bra ladies in 1970’s Grattan’s catalogues, along with the lawnmowers. He admits that he is a bad leafleter, and that we, on exit, are his best PR marketing team, though the pay is s***! At times Jupitus is free-wheeling and regrets his transgressions into stories such as the one about Des Lynam. But never does it feel like the cogs are about to come undone.
He tells a rousing poem of Audrey the school mum in a new town who usurps the bitches of the Range Rover and Jeep Cherokee brigade by obtaining a Panzer tank, that’s fit for purpose outside the school gates once the Swastika stickers have been peeled off. But Jupitus’s pièce de résistance is the opus attuned to his (and our) irrational hatred of Jeremy Clarkson. He admits to envisioning Jeremy’s demise at the hands of a vegetarian lesbian in a Smart Car. All is captured in the hilarious, piston-like poem Jeremy Car F*****.
My more critical, less easy going friend has missed none of this, wanting the last word of the review from the sidelines. “You’d have got more change out of Bill Bailey,” he snorts. I’m not even sure he knows who Bill Bailey is. “Maybe’s aye, maybe’s no,” I say, “but he would never have been as grouchily moist.”