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Behind the Scenes With Nat Tapley AKA Sir Ian Bowler

Hello Nat, we’ve just produced a web series with you.

Yes, it’s called Sir Ian Bowler for London Mayor 2012 Electile Dysfunction, it’s a very short title, quite snappy we like to think. It follows the adventures of a hapless and corrupt politician as he tries to be elected as London Mayor.

Now the election is over and Boris is still in power, how do you assess Sir Ian’s overall strategy in comparison.

Very bad. He shat in the thames, he dressed as a lady, he did many other horrifically humiliating and really quite unpleasant things. All of which we invite you to enjoy on YouTube now.

So Nat, you’re a stand-up comedian, writer, improvisor and actor?

Yes, I wouldn’t disagree with any of those things.

 Tell us how you got into all this?

I started doing comedy because my friend was running a comedy night and he was running it during August when all of his acts were either in Edinburgh or on holiday. He said “it’s tomorrow, I need someone to fill in the time, will you come and do something?” So I got drunk with him and wrote some stuff and then didn’t end up doing it but did the next month instead and it sort of carried on from there, with me carrying on standing up a little bit drunk.

Do you have a preference for what you like doing best?

No, I like doing them all. They all offer different things: live stuff you get instant reactions, it’s very exciting to do; writing allows you to put the thinking into your stories, and acting lets you put on dresses and makeup and run around pooing in the Thames, so that’s got to be a winner.

Where do your characters such as Sir Ian come from?

He was my old Headmaster, originally, and then he got added to over the years. It’s a little impolitic of me to say but I was trying to think of the least pleasant person I could and based it on that. Certainly his voice and his attitudes came from my school days and he’s been embellished so he’s now a more human character than my Headmaster ever was.

Was his name Ian Bowler?

No. I sharn’t tell you what it was.

What made you/Sir Ian want to run for Mayor of London?

Hubris. The desire for attention. Ego and a general lack of awareness of my own limitations.

No desire to rail against Ken and Boris?

Well you know, there are enough people who felt disappointed by the choice on offer. It would have been nice if they could have been given the option to vote for someone a little fresher, a little fatter, a little bit more like Ian Bowler. I’m not even eligible to vote here any way; really I’m just being hypocritical. I’m just standing from the outside, carping at your delightful political process.

Talk me through some of your other comedy characters, such as Gary the Lion on Dick and Dom’s Funny Business. 

Well they’re all quite unpleasant characters. There’s Gary the Lion, who is not very good at being a lion. I tend to do him for children, children who aren’t easily shocked and who enjoy really dark humour. It’s quite a small catchment area for a potential audience but I find both of them like it. There’s also a character called Toby, who is a folk singer. He’s a racist. There’s also Adrian, who’s an evangelical Christian. And a racist. Lots of very unpleasant people. Come to a show, an hour long show and see me doing a litany of horrible people.  I’m giving myself the ironic distance to reveal the horror that’s in my soul.

Ok, though maybe we shouldn’t put that on the poster….Returning to comedy, stand-up is really thriving right now.

Yes, it’s really fun. There’s more interesting things going on right now, certainly since the Vandella (in Shepherd’s Bush) opened a couple of months ago. There’s lots of character stuff going on there, lots of musical stuff, lots of not-strictly stand-up stuff, which is where I tend to fall on the spectrum – on the odd end, rather than the standing up in some jeans and a shirt and telling people why you dislike Facebook end. Which is a valid end, it’s just not the part I inhabit.

 You prefer dress-up.

Yeah, I like to put a wig on. At least.

 You do a lot of improv as well?

Off-and-on. I used to run a show called Off Your Chest, which was a Jeremy Kyle-style chat show. We got some really good improvisers in to do the characters and then the audience to do what they do on Jeremy Kyle, which is to woop and hurl fruit. I’ve done a lot of improvised things, I certainly think it brings a lot to stuff on stage if you can generate it as you’re standing there rather than trying to get laughs out of some old tosh you wrote last night.

Who are your top people currently on the circuit?

Well, they’re all the people you’ll see in my web series: John Voce, Pippa Evans, Darren Strange, Gareth Tunley. That’s why we asked them to be in it, they’re the people I liked. Ruth Bratt as well. Come to Topical Cream at the Vandella and you can see even more of them, second Tuesday of the month, £10 entry, cheaper if you use the code that goes out on Twitter. Follow either me or the Vandella to get that.

Thanks for the tip. What else are you working on?

I have a play on at the Hen and Chickens at the beginning of June. I also have another play with one of my characters also on at the Hen and Chickens at the beginning of June. We did a series of comedy horror podcasts a couple of years ago that won some awards and we’ll be doing them at the Leicester Square Theatre towards the end of the year, October time. I also have a couple of feature films in development with various people. Keep your eyes out for those.


Up-and-coming shows
An evening with Ian Bowler – 4th, 5th, 6th June 7.30pm £6.50
One Man Show (For Two Men)  – 7th, 8th, 9th June 7.30pm £6.50
Topical Cream – Tuesday 12th June 8pm £7

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