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How Green is in our Valley; Comedian Jeff Green is bringing his own special brand of humour to South Wales, as Ali Stokes discovered.

Byline: Ali Stokes

WHEN comic Jeff Green takes to the stage in the Valleys tonight he's promising that everyone will get his jokes.

"I always want to be inclusive, " explained the Chester-born comedian, who has toured with the likes of Jo Brand and Lee Evans.

"When I was a kid I used to listen to radio comedy and I used to hate those people I could hear laughing at jokes that I didn't understand. I felt put down and excluded. I could imagine them with their big beards boasting how they got the Shakespeare reference. And I thought you little men how dare you make me feel s***. So I don't want to exclude people in my audience."

And part of Jeff 's universal appeal, which has earned him nicknames like the "loveable rogue", are the observations he makes on everyday life - which everyone should get Whether it's wearing a balaclava round the house to hide lovebites from your mum to drunken behaviour.

And his girlfriend, who he shares his home with in Highbury, London, is also good for material for his stand-up routines.

"I would hate anyone to leave my show saying 'I didn't get that', said Jeff, who's currently touring six towns across the UK.

"You don't have to be intellectual to get my jokes, but you do have to listen and concentrate."

And he doesn't mind the odd heckle or two.

"I get some great heckles, " he boasted.

"I was doing a routine once talking about how annoying it is when you start going out with a girl and they ring up then put the phone down. I didn't know where it was going and a woman shouted out from the back 'At least we phone'. I said to her, fair play, you're right.

Although he was born in Chester, Jeff spent a year living in Newport after he left Birmingham University with an engineering degree.

"I lived in a pounds 31.50-a-week flat in Clytha Square selling oxygen and acetylene to the steelworks at Llanwern and Port Talbot, " he recalled of his year in Newport in 1987.

But although he reckons he needed a sense of humour to live in Newport, it was while living in Guildford that he visited London's Comedy Store and got a taste for stand-up.

He was paid pounds 7 for his first gig in a pub in Stoke Newington and his third booking at the Bear Cat in Twickenham saw him "walking off stage to the sound of his own feet."

"It was notorious for giving comedians short shrift, " said Jeff, who became a flying comic earlier this year when he toured 30 towns in the Australian Outback on a Cessner aircraft.

"But you don't give up, when that happens. You just go home, re-write your material and make it better.

"Every comic in the world has whiffed the embalming fluid after the show and those who say they haven't are telling lies."

"I've seen them all die. I've seen Eddie Izzard not be asked back and Vic and Bob have had funny shaped fruit and veg thrown at them in the past, " he recalled.

"It's all called paying your dues.

"Lee Evans is the only person I've seen who's always done well."

From those early days Jeff has gone on to win the Comedy Store's New Act Award in 1989, been nominated for a Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Festival, where his show won praise from Billy Connolly and he's compered LWT's 10-part series of The Comedy Club from London's West End.

On TV he's appeared on Shoot the Messenger game show for satellite TV and he's just finished recording a new BBC 1 comedy quiz show called Jo Brand's Hot Potatoes, which is being broadcast at the end of the month. He plays a team captain along with Les Dennis.

"It's not a high brow debating show.

It's the sort of thing you'd discuss in a pub - Coronation Street vs EastEnders, Shopping - heaven or hell? , " explained Jeff.

"We've got Vanessa Feltz, Carol Smillie, John McCririck and Gordon Ramsey on the show.

"Although he's got a reputation for being fiery, Gordon Ramsay was as meek as a lamb when he appeared. He was very sweet.

"I've learned a rule in showbiz - if they come across as horrible they're really quite nice and it's the nice ones you have to watch."

So, having been dubbed a "loveable rogue", is there another side to Green that we should be aware of.

"I like to think I am very much what I say I am, " he said.

Jeff Green plays the Beaufort Theatre, Ebbw Vale, tonight.

CAPTION(S):

HAVING A LAUGH Comic Jeff Green wants everyone to get his jokes.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 2, 2002
Words:787
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