Harry Hill

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Harry Roy Hill (born 1964 in Woking, Surrey) is the stage name of Matthew Hall, a stand-up comedian who has graduated to being a star of British television by way of a BBC radio series Harry Hill's Fruit Corner.

Harry Hill is one of an elite team of alternative British comics associated with the Avalon comedy family. Other careers launched from this gun barrel include those of Richard Herring, Stewart Lee, Dave Gorman, Simon Munnery, Frank Skinner, David Baddiel and Al Murray.

Matthew Hall is very fond of visual gimmicks and there are several associated with his Harry Hill character. Among these are the bald head, the thick black spectacles, pens in the top pocket, small badges on the lapel and, most famously, a comically oversized shirt collar.

Hill's humour is quirky almost to the point of surrealism. In way of illustrating this, the comedy historian Oliver Double described Hill as being "Ronnie Corbett possessed by the ghost of Salvador Dali."

As almost every newspaper interview or profile of Harry Hill will reveal, his real-life alter ego, Matthew, is a qualified medical doctor.

In 2003, he was listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy. In a 2005 poll to find The Comedian's Comedian, he was voted amongst the top 50 comedy acts ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders.

Contents

Radio

Starting in 1993 and running for four series Harry stared in his own Radio series Harry Hillís Fruit Corner on BBC Radio 4.

Television

In 1994 Harry made the transition to television, where he produced and stared in six episodes of a very peculiar show called Fruit Fancies. The name was somewhat similar to his radio show at the time Fruit Corner and was transmitted on BBC2 in 1994. This was a 10 minute episode series and was filmed in black and white with little or no dialogue.

From 1997 Harry had his own Channel 4 television series called The Harry Hill Show (listed simply as Harry Hill on screen) which ran to three series. The show was essentially a reworking of the Radio series Harry Hillís Fruit Corner. Among the regular characters were Harry's big brother, 'Alan' (played by the comedian Al Murray) and his adopted son 'Little Alan' (played by Dr. Matt Bradstock).

The actor Burt Kwouk appeared in every episode of the Harry Hill show and occasionally, Harry's major live standup shows. Kwouk plays Harry 'Chicken Catcher' and each week he will have an excuse as to why he's not captured his chicken yet followed by singing the song, 'Hey Little Hen' and dancing. It was odd that such a star was performing in such an amateur and ridiculous fashion, and therein lay the joke: Kwouk would do almost anything for a joke on Harry's show as long as it was slightly demeaning.

Harry's wife May Ling also made appearances on the show, mainly around the theme of trying to steal Harry's savings book.

Another favourite on the show was Stouffer the cat. Stouffer is a curious-looking cat glove puppet made of blue rubber. Stouffer normally sits in a throne supported by a rubber 'Rod Hull' arm. Harry employs Stouffer to intimidate guests in his standup routines and as part of a strange childrens TV parody sketch on his TV show.

The end of each episode was supposed to host an event called 'The Badger Parade': a strange parade of puppet badgers. But every week there would be some kind of problem resulting in the badgers being unable to perform. In place of the badger parade, Harry would usually sing a song, with a guest he had invited onto the show.

2001 saw Harry move to ITV with an all-new show, Harry Hill's TV Burp, which has had four series so far. The show is a look at the week's television, picking out and commenting on lines and scenes from various programmes. In 2004 Harry became the new presenter of You've Been Framed, a programme in the "funny home videos" genre.

Standup

Harry Hill has established a tight and successful standup structure in which he employs the comedic process of 'reincorporation' to a uniquely obsessive degree. He sets up a number of running themes and slips in and out of each thread without warning, in this regard it is akin to juggling a number of objects and delighting the audience with the skill. Harry is one of the comedians set on his way by Malcolm Hardee.

His routines are usually smut-free and he seldom employs harsh language. There is often a sexual undertone to his work but his humour appears grounded in petty 'old time' attitudes and conservativism.

Occasionally, such as in his 1997 Man Alive show he employs video footage. In this case, a short movie featuring himself and Matt Bradstock called The boy with the big face was presented at the beginning of the show.

Stouffer the cat usually appears in his standup; in later shows, riding on the success of his TV series, Burt Kwouk and other characters from the TV show would also show up. Despite the delight from fans in the audience, many say that the appearance of other characters broke the flow of the standup routine and cheapened the act.

Harry has also developed many catchphrases over the years including "what are the chances of that happening?" after a bizarre routine and "pork and lamb: they're the main two" in relation to chops.

Chops, puppets, discussion of TV soaps and failed celebrities are all Harry Hill signatures.

Harry Hill appeared on the We know where you live video along with Eddie Izzard and Paul Whitehouse.

There are five Harry Hill standup comedy videos on general release in the UK.

Books

In 2003 Harry Hill's first novel was published. It is called Flight from Deathrow. The central storyline involves a messed up aeroplane flight and other storylines draw from Harry's standup routine.

Also available is the Harry Hill funbook: a Christmas cash-in and spinoff from the TV show during the height of its popularity.

Other

In 2003, a trio of MP3s appeared on Hill's official website (http://www.harry-hill.tv), entitled This is Paul Scott (http://www.harry-hill.tv/paulScott.html). They formed a 15-minute mock-documentary covering a day in the life of Paul Scott, a man with a computer-synthesized voice and dreams of being a famous entertainer.

Harry's instantly recognisable voice often lands him in voice-over roles on television commercials.

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