Musical comedy – two words that can turn up the noses of both critics and audiences within seconds. Crafting a song that can make people raise a smile and tap their feet is no laughing matter, you know.
As the UK's favourite musical comedian, Bill Bailey is the man to talk to when it comes to musical mirth. “When I was growing up, there wasn’t much [musical comedy], really," he says. "Most of it was musical comedy bands, but the music itself was pretty dire. You could have taken the music away and read the lyrics out to a church bell sounding in the distance, and it would have had the same effect.”
Blazing a trail for innovative and, crucially, hilarious musical comedy that the likes of Tim Minchin and Steel Panther have followed, Bill Bailey almost single-handedly proved that, after years in the wilderness, musical comedy could work. As he gears up for a run of gigs for his new show Qualmpeddler, we caught up with the bearded genius to discover the secrets of making it in musical comedy.