This article is from 2008.
Russell Howard can't resist a spot of testicular tomfoolery but, he tells Jay Richardson, his new act is less Buster Gonad than Jack Kerouac
With his infectious, wide-eyed optimism currently offering a counterbalance to Frankie Boyle's unflinching cynicism on Mock the Week, Russell Howard says he is striving to slip 'various bits of topical stuff' into his five-night Fringe run. But his new stories of racist transvestism, scary sex and the bizarre practice of 'yawn rape' might lead you to wonder whether the 28-year-old's boyish enthusiasm has been irrevocably corrupted by his hardened panel show peers.
On the contrary, his new show, Dingledodies, tears a page out of Jack Kerouac's On the Road to celebrate those rare, life-affirming eccentrics whom an observant flâneur like Howard can encounter even on the journey to buy a sandwich. 'I've had loads of people ask, "Dingledodies? Is that what you call your balls?"' he says. '"Is this a show about the hilarious adventures of your knackers?"'
Fear not, dear reader, it is not. Rather it's a reference to the bit in Kerouac's cult novel where Dean meets Carlo Marx and Sal Paradise. Howard has the quote down pat: '"They danced down the street like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars."
'I read the book this year and that passage really stuck with me; I thought, that's what I love to do!'
In between the tales of 'drunken madness' involving his mate Tom, his arrested development as a blissfully ignorant man-child and stuff about 'being a hopeless prick', Howard is using his hour as a reaction against boorish aggression. 'I think too many people revel in their petty rage to the point where they define themselves by futile anger,' he says. 'People who say things like, "Britain's broken! I'm a stranger in my own country! Political correctness gone mad, blah, blah, blah." These people bore me shitless and I much prefer the dingledodies. Plus it does sound a bit like my balls.'
Demand for Howard's limited performances will be high, but if you miss him, he'll be back at the Kings Theatre in Edinburgh in October, with a live DVD out in November.
Russell Howard: Dingledodies, Assembly Rooms, 623 6550, 20-24 Aug, 10.30pm, £14 (£12).