After seeing a couple of stage plays about comedians, Jim Davidson thought: ‘I could do better than that.’ So the stand-up comedian wrote Stand Up And Be Counted.
The play, in which Jim appears at the Southampton Mayflower next week, tracks the incendiary events that erupt when representatives of opposite ends of the comedy scale lock horns in a dank, unprepossessing dressing-room at a charity fund-raiser.
When Jim’s character, Eddie Pierce, clashes with a hot young stand-up played by rising comedy star Matt Blaize, neither emerges undamaged.
Matt describes the play as ‘a fascinating encounter between an old stag and a young buck’.
He explains: ‘Eddie represents the old-school, frilly-shirted end of comedy. He sees everyone as fair game for humour. Earl stands for the new school. He says: “No, you can’t just pick on anyone – you have to have a conscience.”
‘The characters have a big argument about Eddie being racist and out-of-date. Eddie defends himself by saying young comedians aren’t funny – they are all just left-wing Ben Elton wannabes.
‘It’s a clash of cultures. But regardless of their style and their generation, the two comedians end up with a mutual respect. Comedy is one of the few things that can unite people and knock down barriers.’
Matt, now a firm friend of Jim, says this aspect of the play mirrors their own relationship.
‘When we first met at a gig, I told him I didn’t like what he represented, and he wanted to know why.
‘I said that the morning after he did jokes about Chalky White on TV during the 1970s, I was tormented in the playground the next day.
‘To his credit, Jim took it all in. He was highly complimentary about my act and asked me to support him at some big gigs.’
Jim says: ‘What Matt said to me that night really stuck in my mind. It made me feel really bad that I had made his life difficult through my attempts to get laughs.
‘So I wrote Stand Up And Be Counted, thinking of that first conversation with Matt.
‘What if Eddie faced his Nemesis, a young black comedian on his way to the top and leaving Eddie behind because the world has moved on but Eddie hasn’t?’
Some of the dialogue comes from that first meeting.
· Performances from Monday to Saturday. Tickets: (023) 8071 1811 or mayflower.org.uk.