Ted Chippington

Ted Chippington

Ted Chippington (real name Francis Smyth; born February 1962) is a British stand-up comedian. His act is one in which the conventions of his chosen craft are routinely flouted. Assuming a diffident on-stage persona (in contrast to the self-confident aura of most comics) and delivering his material in a West Midlands monotone, he eschews observational comedy in favour of anti-humour and jokes which are mostly variations on the same theme, interspersed with his own versions of well-known songs performed in a similarly listless style. This approach has left many audiences bemused or even hostile (his expertise at dealing with hecklers comes from frequent practice).

However, Ted's deadpan style has also won him a small but devoted number of followers (or "good mates", as Ted likes to call them). Probably his most notable fan is Stewart Lee, who has often cited Chippington as the reason he started doing stand-up comedy himself, and has described Ted's act as being "a mixture of surrealism and insolent provocation and uncompromising boredom". [ [http://www.stewartlee.co.uk/scrapbook/scrapbookcut_drownedinsound_jul05.html Stewart Lee website, July 2005] ] Another admirer, Richard Herring, talks of Chippington's "contempt for the very idea of jokes". [ [http://www.richardherring.com/newsletters/index.php?nlid=183 Richard Herring website] ] For his part Ted - who describes his own act as being influenced by Lenny Bruce and Owd Grandad Piggott [ [http://www.myspace.com/revtedchippington Ted Chippington on MySpace] ] - says he is an "anti-comedian" and that he only started doing his act "to annoy people". He has even claimed that his main reason for retiring from the stage in the 1990s was that he was becoming too popular.

Early years

Ted started performing in 1981 under the name "Eddie Chippington" before changing to Ted "due to maturity and baldness". He first came to national prominence when a gig he had performed in Birmingham in 1984 supporting The Fall (his favourite band) was released by local record label Vindaloo on a 7" EP entitled "Non Stop Party Hits of the 50s 60s and 70s". The EP title refers to his penchant for performing his own versions of classic hits, including on this occasion his rendering of Ottawan's 'D.I.S.C.O.'. The record was played by John Peel on his BBC Radio One programme - a rare occurrence for a comedian.

In 1986 he released an album, 'Man In A Suitcase' - a collection of live recordings plus some more songs, included his versions of "She Loves You" and Alvin Stardust's 'I Feel Like Buddy Holly' - which reached the Top 10 indie album chart. "She Loves You" received wider exposure after Steve Wright repeatedly played it on his Radio 1 show, which in turn led to the track being released as a single by Warner Brothers. It narrowly failed to make the Top 40 but Ted claims that the deal with Warners earned him "£1,000 and a nice curry". Interview with Phill Jupitus, BBC 6 Music, 5 February 2007] .

Despite its failure to crack the charts, "She Loves You" raised Ted's profile considerably and led to numerous media appearances, including a turn on the BBC's lunchtime magazine show "Pebble Mill at One", the latter fulfilling a lifelong ambition. His performance on the show was rubbished by presenter Paul Coia, although some have theorised that Coia was just playing along with the concept.

Ted also fielded interviews with the "New Musical Express", Birmingham's BRMB (where he managed to thoroughly baffle his interviewer) and, bizarrely, the colour supplement of "The Mail on Sunday". He also performed at the Glastonbury and Reading festivals.

Ted once again came close to mainstream UK singles chart success with a recording of his theme tune 'Rocking with Rita' which he performed with his fellow Vindaloo artists Rob Lloyd and The Nightingales and We've Got A Fuzzbox And We're Gonna Use It. A further single followed with his reading of Dion's "The Wanderer", in which the boastfulness of the original lyrics was turned on its head: "I'm not the wanderer, I'm not the wanderer...not too keen on roaming around and around and around".

In spite of all this, Chippington's ruthless disregard for the conventions of stand-up made him a perennial outcast from the 1980s comedy scene. At a time when performers such as Ben Elton and Harry Enfield were at their peak, Ted (who once claimed his favourite comedian was Bernard Manning [ [http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Club/9440/mm71286.htm Melody Maker interview, 1986] ] ) struggled to break through to a wider audience.


In 1990, feeling overwhelmed by the media attention, Ted retired from showbusiness to pursue a career in truck-driving in the US. This ended ignominiously when his lorry shed its load on the Pacific Coast Highway. After this he tried his hand as a cook in various restaurants in Mexico, before returning to the UK, getting married and settling in Torquay.

Return to performing

In 2006 he started performing again. He now styles himself "The Reverend Ted Chippington" and has ditched his old Teddy Boy stage outfit in favour of a vicar's dog-collar. He has also changed much of his material, meaning that Ted connoisseurs of old who are expecting to hear the "railway station joke" are likely to be disappointed.

A CD boxset of Ted's earlier work, entitled "Walking Down The Road", has been released on Robert Lloyd's Big Print label. A tribute to Chippington entitled "Tedstock", featuring Stewart Lee, Richard Herring and numerous other stand-up comedians, was held at London's Bloomsbury Theatre in 2007 in order to raise money to fund this release. [ [http://www.notbbc.co.uk/newsletters/16/stewart_lee_november_2006.html NotBBC website, November 2006] ] This event led to a new flurry of media appearances for Chippington, including articles in national newspapers [ [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20070201/ai_n17163685/pg_1 "Heard the one about Ted Chippington?", "The Independent", 1 February 2007] ] [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguide/comedy/story/0,,2004615,00.html "Father Ted", "The Guardian", 3 February 2007] ] and television and radio appearances [ [http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x14p2p_ted-chippington Clip from The Culture Show, BBC Two, 3 February 2007] ] .


External links

* [http://www.duckworthsquare.com/frankosonic/frankosonic/2006/08/ted-chippington.html Article about Ted Chippington including some sound clips]
* [http://www.myspace.com/revtedchippington Ted's MySpace page]
* [http://youtube.com/watch?v=Q5-EFwScMEU Ted's appearance on "Pebble Mill at One", BBC One, 1986]
* [http://www.goodmatesofted.co.uk/ We're Good Mates of Ted: The Official Unofficial Ted Chippington Fan Site]

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