Comedians Al Murray and Tim Vine put their stand-up routines to the side to try their hand at another passion for this year's Fringe
'I'm pretty sure I'm the first person to do a tribute act of Elvis Presley,' reckons Tim Vine, possibly not all that seriously. 'You might wanna look that up but I've got a feeling that I'm breaking new ground here … '
The King has been Vine's favourite performer since he was 'very, very young' and he relishes the prospect of performing as Elvis. 'It's a vanity project,' he levels. 'But the great thing about Edinburgh is that you get to just go and do things for the heck of it. I've done it three or four times and it always seems to sort of work, and I don't know why that is.'
Vine is adamant that, although his tribute is funny, it's not a send-up. 'I don't think it's disrespectful to Elvis,' he explains. 'I'm not there to make crass jokes about the latter stages of his life or anything like that. I think part of the humour of it, according to some friends of mine who've seen it, is that I really do appear to be trying extremely hard to be doing the best impression I possibly can of Elvis Presley.'
Uniquely, Vine is accompanied in his endeavour by a bona fide Elvis Presley songwriter. David Martin joins the comedian for a duet on 'Let's Be Friends', a song Martin wrote for one of Presley's final films, Change of Habit. 'What's new for me is doing an entire evening of it with a live band, and they're so brilliant. To say that it's a vanity project is fair,' laughs Vine. 'I often think it's me getting the most out of this whole thing; I'm paying for the experience and, for me, it's worth every penny!'
Tim Vine as Plastic Elvis
'We look like a dad band, we smell like a dad band but we are not a dad band,' insists Al Murray who plays drums in 'not-dad band' Fat Cops. 'The fact that we all have families and children is unrelated to everything else to do with the band.' The genesis of Fat Cops is highly unusual and, in these politically turbulent times, somewhat reassuring. 'It's a bunch of people who met on Twitter, arguing with each other about politics,' recalls Murray. 'We then realised that actually we were all having fun, and we had more in common being into music and into each other's wit and humour. It's the strangest thing: I'm in a band from Scotland and I live in West London.'
The group initially coalesced over the issue of Scottish Independence. While Euan McColm (guitar) and Bobby Hodgens aka Bobby Bluebell (keyboards) were at either end of that debate, they bridged the gap by talking about music, and by trading songs they'd written via email. The band's influences include Happy Mondays, Deacon Blue and The Cramps. 'There are lots of different things going on all at once which reflects that there's six people writing in the band and six people coming at it, all from their own direction,' says Murray. 'And I think that's why it works so well.'
And do the band members still talk politics when they meet up for rehearsals? Murray emphatically says 'no' 12 times. 'That's all thoroughly passed, and the point of the band is the music,' he says, evidently relieved. 'The really lovely thing about it is that, although we did all meet on Twitter which you imagine is a boiling foment of people who want to throttle each other, that's not what we're like at all. Or at least that's not what we're like at the moment: you never know … '
Tim Vine Presents: Plastic Elvis Live in Concert!, Underbelly's Circus Hub on the Meadows, 7 Aug, 10.15pm, £15.50 (£14.50); Fat Cops, Assembly George Square Gardens, 7 Aug, 11.55pm, £13 (£12).
Bound & Gagged Comedy In this special one-off event, Plastic Elvis will thrill you with an evening of full throttle charisma, unstoppable rock'n'roll and jaw-dropping excitement. You'll be dazzled by leg movements even Plastic himself isn't expecting. Sing along to the hits you love and, if you're lucky, catch a…