Karen Koren: Smiley’s people are very funny

Michael Smiley in 'Confessions of a Catholic Buddhist' Pic: Comp
Michael Smiley in 'Confessions of a Catholic Buddhist' Pic: Comp
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I WAS at the opening night of the Film Festival last week and bumped into an old friend, Michael Smiley, better known as just Smiley when he performed stand up in the 90s.

His first one man show was with us at the Gilded Balloon and he was wild, flirty and very funny. He was runner- up in So You Think You’re Funny? to Dylan Moran in 1993. Since then he has become a successful actor and was at the Film Festival to judge for The Michael Powell Award for Best British Film.

Michael started his acting career when he shared a flat with Simon Pegg, who also performed stand-up in the 90s and had a show at the Gilded Balloon at the same time as Smiley. They became firm friends. He played the part of Tyres O’Flaherty in the cult TV series Spaced. His role as hit man Gal, in Ben Wheatley’s Kill List won Best Supporting Actor at the British Indep-endent Film Awards and Best Actor at the Total Film Frightfest, his credits also include Luther, Ripper Street and Black Mirror. He told me that he has just been given a second series of his documentary Ride Home About, which finds him cycling around his native Northern Ireland.

I discussed the possibility of bringing a one-man show to the Gilded Balloon, which he has promised he will do... when he writes one. Let’s hope that is not too far away.

In the meantime, I’m excited about this year’s Fringe and what we have on offer, my gem for this week is The Collector, written and performed by Henry Naylor. It is a satirical ghost story set during the US occupation of Iraq. At a time when Blair and the former Bush administration are blaming others for the radicalisation of Iraq, Naylor’s new play promises to be both timely and provocative.

His two previous Fringe shows garnered 17 four and five star reviews. Henry established himself as one of Britain’s premier satirical humorists, having been lead writer on Spitting Image and as one half of comedy duo Parsons and Naylor. Can’t wait!