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A comedian with many hats
YOU'D never know when being funny can come in handy but comedian Bill Bailey has used it to get out of a tricky situation or two.
Like in 2011 when he was booked as one of the headliners at rock music festival Sonisphere.
"It was scary and I was a little nervous (even though) comedy has found its way into a lot of festivals where they have a tent," recalls the English funnyman, who was once a member of a four-piece band called The Famous Five. He adds: "I was on before (extreme metal act) Slipknot and I look out and see 65,000 people with tattoos and piercings!"
Bailey, of course, eventually won the crowd over with his sense of humour. "Luckily, there is a crossover between metal and comedy, and a lot of metal fans love comedy," he quips.
His antics - including a cover version of Metallica's Enter Sandman performed with bicycle horns - can be seen on YouTube and heard on the "live" album Bill Bailey In Metal, which was recorded at the festival.
The 52-year-old, who is best known for starring in the cult British dark television comedy series Black Books, will return to perform in Singapore next weekend with his new show, Larks in Transit.
In it, he will wax lyrical about life on the road as a travelling comedian for the last two decades, and tackle politics, philosophy, ringtones, death metal and more with his trademark wit and musical virtuosity.
The title is also a sly reference to a new book the avid naturalist and activist has penned called Bill Bailey's Remarkable Guide to British Birds.
His Facebook page is full of wildlife photos he has taken while touring around the world. "One of the great things about this job and doing it now is the impact of social media and the way it carries a message - I've been involved in conservation and wildlife documentaries so word gets around and when I tour, people will ask things like if I would like to see the Tasmanian Devil," he says.
Four years ago, he was also in Indonesia and Malaysia filming Bill Bailey's Jungle Hero, a two-part documentary about naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, who came up with the theory of evolution at the same time as Darwin but whose efforts have been erased from history.
Bailey's environmental work has earned him a honorary doctorate in conservation and sustainability from the Australian University of the Sunshine Coast in 2014.
He hopes to explore the "wilder" side of Singapore if time permits when he is here next week. "I spent some time on a boat trip (the previous time) and I have contacts with nature and conservation communities around the world," Bailey shares. "You get to meet people with tremendous knowledge ... and that can be a great window to the nation."
- Bill Bailey's Larks in Transit takes place at University Cultural Centre (UCC) Hall, NUS, on Dec 11 at 8pm. Tickets from S$88 to S$158 available at Sistic