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14


BUSINESS FIRST June\July 2012 www.businessfirstmagazine.co.uk


COMEDY: TO


KATHMANDU BEYOND


A partnership between comedian Eddie Izzard and one-time punk rocker Mick Perrin has created a remarkable new export business. Nick Peters reports.


Ten years ago, Eddie Izzard and Mick Perrin were on a flight to Australia for a comedy tour. Mick was managing the tour, as he had for Izzard and many other artists since leaving Brighton’s punk scene for the world of stage and tour management.


‘Eddie passed me his laptop and told me to read an email,’ Mick remembers. ‘It was from his promoter saying he’d been offered a really good job he couldn’t


turn down. Eddie said, “You’ve always wanted to be a promoter, haven’t you?” and I said yes. And he said, “Well, you’re my promoter now. And the next tour I want to do is a UK arena tour.” Now that was something that had never been done before. So my response was wow! And f**k! Because now I had to raise over a million pounds to make it happen. And I had nothing.’


PEOPLE SAY I’M A LUNATIC…BUT I’M A SUCCESSFUL LUNATIC


A bit of context: a tour promoter negotiates with venues and puts up their own money to finance the whole enterprise. As well as being asked to take over as his promoter, Mick was entering completely unknown territory. Arenas are venues of around 15,000 seats and back in 2003, when this conversation took place, only the comedy duo Baddiel and Skinner had played to such a large venue, and only then on a one- off basis, in London back in 1993. Received wisdom was that comedy belonged in clubs, on TV and, at


most, theatres. It certainly should not putting on airs and graces and behaving like rock music. But then Eddie Izzard has never thought much of received wisdom. Mick Perrin didn’t think twice, he just got on with it.


Raising the money was his first task. It just so happens that Mick’s wife is the sister of comedian Harry Enfield, who offered to back his brother-in-law. But that was just the first hurdle. Being taken seriously by arena venues around the UK was the second.


‘I was laughed at by some because they’d never had a touring comedy show before. One venue even double booked me because they didn’t take me seriously. Of course once tickets went on sale they’re ringing up asking for second dates because within days we were on 50 – 60%, some sold out.’


It was a successful start to a business founded on a massive risk but which today promotes tours by some of the best known English-speaking comedians. Names like Paul Merton, Reginald D. Hunter, Simon Amstell, Julian Clary, Ardal O’Hanlon, Ross Noble and Dylan


AND


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