Bill Bailey is one of the most popular comedians in the U.K. thanks to his appearances on shows such as Black Books, Spaced, and Never Mind the Buzzcocks and his surreal, hilarious, stand-up routines. This month, Bailey is visiting these shores with dates in New York, Chicago and Boston. “There’s something for all tastes,” he says of his current show, Dandelion Mind. “There’s intellectual comedy. There’s observational stuff. Music. Lots of visuals. It’s a multi-media romp!” The tour will also be opportunity for audience members to see why Bailey is routinely mistaken for Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich. “Oh yeah, that’s happened many times,” he admits with a chuckle. “You’re Lars!’ ‘No, I’m not.’ ‘Yes, you are!’ ‘No, I’m not.’ And then eventually you go, ‘Yeah, alright, f— it, I am. I’m Lars!’”
Here are five more things you need to know about Mr Bailey:
1. He loves watching dormice do the nasty. A few years back, the wildlife-adoring Bailey made a show about endangered animals, including dormice. “To encourage them to get down and dirty we built a tunnel from one side of this wood to another,” he explains. “We called it the ‘Tunnel of Love.’ I was pimping them. The British love wildlife. Since then I’ve been accosted by enormous goths — like, Marilyn Manson fans with shaved eyebrows and black contact lenses — who stop me in the street and go, ‘Bill! What’s happened with the dormouse?’ It’s extraordinary.”
2. His fans petitioned Peter Jackson to cast him in The Hobbit. “Yeah, there was a petition, but it didn’t work out,” says the comedian, who named one of his previous stand-up shows “Part Troll.” “There was also a petition to get me in Lord of the Rings, a petition to get me in Doctor Who. I think petitions just annoy people. They think, ‘Why not just go through the proper channels? Don’t keep sending us these signatures!’”
3. He’s in the new movie from John “Animal House” Landis. Bailey has actually appeared in several films including Hot Fuzz, the Ed Westwick-starring Chalet Girl, and Landis’ horror-comedy Burke and Hare, which was released in the U.K. last year and hits select screens here next week. “So many people wanted to be in it because John Landis is a legend,” says Bailey. “But I had to shave my beard off, which was very weird. People had no idea it was me. They would say, ‘There’s a bloke that looked a bit like you, without a beard.’”
4. He does a very peculiar cover of “Poker Face.” Bailey frequently pastiches and combines musical genres in his show and of late has been performing the Lady Gaga hit in the manner of British comedy-folk act the Wurzels. “The Wurzels wear smocks and scarves and have straw coming out of their mouths,” elaborates Bailey. “For a while I did Kraftwerk singing their songs in a sort of German disco style. Then I thought it would be funny for the Wurzels to tackle a modern pop song. So that was inspiration behind ‘Poker Face.’ My version is also more about poker. It may be too surreal for American audiences. But it will be fun for me!”
5. He can also play “Enter Sandman”… on old-timey car horns! See below.