Richard Skinner










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a1969: Footlights
My first foray into comedy came with my desire to join the Cambridge University 'Footlights'. I went along to the auditions for the first 'smoker' of the year with three scripts and performed a headmaster monologue in front of two committee members.

They smiled once or twice but didn't laugh, then asked if I had any other material. In October 1969 I showed them the other two scripts. One, a monologue by Sir Isaac Newton was dismissed, but the third they started laughing as they read it, and they asked me to perform it.

This sketch, entitled “Evans Above”, was of a football commentator commentating on a match between two Welsh teams in which everyone, referee included, was called Evans, and was inspired by a news report of a tour to Russia of a Welsh rugby team in which nearly all the players were called Jones. After the audition I performed the sketch at the first “smoker” of the term. It went down a storm, with Clive James subsequently saying it was the best sketch by a fresher he had heard. I was invited to join the club (the membership card of which I still have) and continued to perform sketches at subsequent smokers, though without the same success.

1970: Headlights
Four friends - Chris Farrell, Gordon Clarke, Fran Jordan and I – formed an ad hoc cabaret team to perform a short show on New Year’s Eve 1970 at Chris’s home. As we were well received, we decided to tout for more bookings, and over the next two years we performed many times at private parties and social events, both at Cambridge and in south east London where the four of us lived.

1971: Mind the Boggles
In December 1971 I was producer, performer and principal writer of a revue at Pembroke College entitled Mind the Boggles). We had packed houses on the three nights of its run.

1972: Seventh Sense
Fran dropped out of the team and we were joined by Tim Unwin as performer and occasional writer of sketches. We changed the name of the troupe to Seventh Sense, and continued to perform at Cambridge-based events, including May Balls

1972-1975: After Cambridge
Chris dropped out of performing, though remained involved with shows, as Gordon & I, often with Tim, continued to write and perform at a range of social events and private parties from 1972 to 1975, when I moved to Exeter to write fiction, where Tim was deeply immersed in his PhD on Flaubert. Gordon, in London, was also PhDing, investigating the neuro-transmitter GABA.

1975 - present: Exeter
Since moving to Exeter in August 1975, I have continued to write and perform occasional sketches, from time to time putting on a full revue. These have included taking a show to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1988, alternating a one-man sketch show with a two-man poetry reading (Chris Southgate being my fellow poet); numerous sketches at a number of parish weekends away, two full-length revues at which I was reunited with Gordon; sketches with Karen Huckvale at many of the Champernowne Trust summer courses and two full length revues with her in Exeter; and at a scattering of fund-raising events.

The future
Gordon and I have plans for a new(ish) revue in the autumn of 2017. Watch this space.

The last full-length revue was video’d. For a taster of what Gordon and I write and perform, click on the following:

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