Interview: Danny Bhoy, comedian

Danny Bhoy

Danny Bhoy

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SOME comedians want it all: fame, fortune and five-star reviews in the Evening News. Some even want to behave like rock stars and paint the town red after a show with their groupies (or ‘gag hags’) in tow. Danny Bhoy is forced to settle for a hot mug of Ovaltine.

Yes, he may be one of the most in-demand stand-ups on the planet, but it seems that all the travelling he does plays havoc with his private life.

“Actually,” he corrects, “it would play havoc with my private life IF I had one. But I don’t, and that’s pretty much the biggest problem.”

You’d think the life of a famous comedian like Bhoy (real name Danni Chaudhry) would be very rock ‘n’ roll. After all, he is often described as charming, funny and annoyingly good looking. He also happens to be independently wealthy and has throngs of adoring female fans.

And yet the Merchiston Castle FP insists that fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. “You’d be surprised how dull it is,” he says. “My life is so chaotic when I’m on tour that it’s nothing like you’d imagine. When I’ve not got a show I’m in bed with an Ovaltine and a DVD by 9 o’clock. And even when I do have a gig, after I finish I rush out the back door of the venue and head for my hotel room.

“So yeah, I’m sorry to say it, but I have no private life at all,” he adds. “Not married, no girlfriend, nothing. My friends envy the freedom of me being able to just get up and go there and do this or that, but it is a little trying after a while. Especially when I’m at home and everyone’s going out for dinner in couples.”

He may not be doing so well in the relationship stakes, but Bhoy’s career has gone the way of a juggernaut since his first solo show in a modest 60-seater venue at the Fringe back in 2001.

Eleven years on, the Indian-Scottish comic is one of the biggest names on the international circuit. He has a massive following in Australia and New Zealand, not to mention here in the UK, where he can easily fill venues the size of the 1800-capacity Festival Theatre, where he returns next week for two consecutive nights on Wednesday and Thursday.

It’s not the first time the 38-year-old has graced the stage at the Nicolson Street venue. In 2003, he was invited to appear in the Royal Variety Performance and afterwards he met Her Majesty... for the second time.

“Yes, I’ve met her twice now,” he says. “The first time was at a reception for Scottish Young Achievers at Holyrood. Most people there were teenagers who’d done something genuinely amazing, and I’d just won a comedy competition.

“After I’d stumbled my way through a conversation with the Queen, Prince Philip shook my hand and said, ‘I like your act’ - but what he said next was funny.

“He said, ‘I was very confused by you because you sound Irish but you look bloody Indian’. And I thought, ‘You’re everything I thought you were going to be. I thought you would say something a bit stupid and slightly racist, and you have not disappointed me’.

Laughing, he adds, “Of course, I didn’t say any of that to him. I just smiled and said ‘thanks very much’.”

When Bhoy met the Queen for a second time in 2003 it was just as uncomfortable. “I was naive enough to think that she might remember me,” he laughs. “She seemed quite perplexed when I suggested that we’d met before. There was an awkward silence.”

Next week Bhoy returns to the Festival Theatre for two special performances of stand-up taken from his latest two shows, By Royal Disappointment, which played at the Edinburgh festival in 2010, and his award-winning show Messenger (Please Do Not Shoot), which last year toured Australia and New Zealand to record crowds.

So does he feel any pressure to be back at the venue as a headline act? “There’s always a bit more pressure performing in Edinburgh anyway, but I’ve played bigger venues in other places,” he says. “As much as anything, it will be strange to be back at the Festival Theatre, simply because the last time it was the Royal Variety performance and the Queen was there.”

And is he hopeful of another face-to-face with Her Majesty? “I don’t think that’s going to happen this time,” he laughs. “But you never know... she might pop in.”

Danny Bhoy, Festival Theatre, Nicolson Street, Wednesday and Thursday, 7.30pm, £16.50, 0131-529 6000