Harry Hill (real name Matthew Hall) is an English stand-up comedian and television performer. His routines generally involve several surreal situations and anecdotes being interleaved together, with Hill changing gears frequently without warning. His jokes involve everything from wordplay ("Curly Wurly, Liz Hurley") to mime or physical comedy, taking in props and puppets (most prominently Stouffer the cat), silly voices and pop culture references along the way. He bases many of his anecdotes around the activities of his family (his mum, dad, nan and brother) although they're (presumably) fictional. Occasionally he drops in a completely stand-alone one liner to baffle the audience. ("You like doughnuts? Of course you do, they're a lovely, jam-filled snack.", "Nelson Mandela! More crazy shirts please.") He has developed a 'trademark' appearance similar to variety performers- bald head and thick black spectacles, a suit with a massively outsided collar, lapel badges, and brothel-creeper shoes.

Hill trained as a doctor, and got his first taste of the showbiz performing in medical student revues. (One of his routines involved placing a pork pie under his hat, which unfortunately would melt in the heat.) Eventually he quit medicine, and started doing stand-up full time. Eventually he was given a radio show on Radio 4, called Harry Hill's Fruit Corner, in which he developed many of the ideas that he would later use on stage and television. He also made some silent shorts shown late at night on BBC2 (the Fruit Fancies series).

Once the radio show had started to gain attention and critical praise, the natural progression was to adapt it to a half-hour television show on Channel 4. Called simply 'Harry Hill', the show was intentionally formulaic (although less so in later years), and uses many sketches, characters and catchphrases. Some regular characters included the hilarious Bert Kwouk (best known as Cato from the Pink Panther films) who played a monsterously exaggerated version of himself, Al Murray (later to star in Time Gentlemen Please) as Harry's simple-minded big brother Alan, Stouffer the Cat (a bizarre ventriloquism turn with a plastic, streetwise, singing feline), Finsbury Park (played, along with several other characters, by Steve Bowditch), and the Badger Parade (a long-running theme in Hill's work, a highly anticipated parade of woodland creatures that acts as a finale, but is usually thwarted in some fashion). There was normally a guest star and a musical number in each show. This programme ran for three series before being wound up.

Harry's next TV vehicle was a series for ITV called TV Burp, which was based around the concept of reviewing the week's television and commenting on it. Although most of this programme's content seemed quite dumbed down and (naturally) reliant on the viewer having some familiarity with soap operas and other mundane television staples, there were occasional bursts of inspiration. (Examples off the top of my head include Hill's deranged impression of David Dickinson, and the out-of-context quoting of Professor Robert Winston.)

As of this writing (2002), Hill is about to launch a new series on ITV which is more in keeping with his previous sketch and stand-up work. He also does a theatre tour most years, which is probably the best outlet for his comedy overall, and is followed up by the obligatory Christmas video.

Harry Hill's unbelieveably funny website:


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