JIMMY Cricket arrives back in the UK on Saturday, the day before his first Scarborough show in five years.
The Irish comedian has been trying to crack the USA, sharing bills with Andy Williams, the Osmonds, Bobby Vincent and Ray Stevens, says his son Dale Mulgrew.
Jimmy has been performing at a venue in Branson, Missouri, described by Dale as "the Vegas of the bible belt".
He added: "It's his first time in the USA and it's gone super. The yanks have really taken to him which is not hard as he's Irish."
Jimmy flies back from Springfield (the Simpsons' home town) in time for his show at the Spa Theatre on Sunday.
The funnyman said: "I have fond memories of Scarborough and years ago when I first came over from Ireland I worked in the town as a kitchen porter at the Norbreck Hotel; I was all washed up!"
"It has been several years since my last appearance in the resort which was during the summer 1999 season at the Futurist Theatre and so I'm delighted to return, especially to such a gorgeous theatre like the Spa with its stunning views over the bay," said Jimmy.
He is having a busy summer.
Just before the American trip, he did a couple of cabaret cruises aboard P&O's Oriana and Adonia ships, and is appearing in the Frank Carson All-Star Show in Blackpool.
In December he will return to the Garrick Theatre in Lichfield for its panto production of Aladdin, following Cinderella last Christmas.
Jimmy turns out to be a panto fiend: "I love playing Buttons; the role involves a whole range of emotions, which allows me to be maniac and sometimes melancholy. He is just a loveable clown and I can't help but love him."
He is equally attached to variety. "Theatre is in my blood. As a child I used to go with my father to the Grand Opera House in Belfast. We would climb up to the gods to see headliners such as Lonnie Donegan, Max Bygraves and Dave Whitfield ply their trade.
"These bill toppers only did half an hour, so the rest of the two-hour show was made up of the best speciality acts from around the world, such as jugglers, acrobats, tap dancers and ventriloquists. These guys must have worked for years to get to the stage they were at.
"As my pal Roy Hudd used to say, 'It was two hours of pure escapism.' "People don't want to work for fame these days, they want instant celebrity."
"My definition of Big Brother is people with nothing to do watching people who can do nothing!"
From the mid 80s to the mid 90s, Jimmy had his own ITV show called And There's More and a Radio 2 programme called Jimmy Cricket's Team.
He said: "I loved having my own shows. It was a great time commercially and creatively, but having that sort of fame has its downside. For instance some friends change their perception of you. You haven't changed and you want them just to be themselves, but things aren't the same any more and that's sad.
"You also have the people who are running the TV schedules saying what you can do and can't do. One of the great blessings about working live is that you have complete control over what you can do."
"I would like to do a TV special one day for the whole family. It would be all my best bits and some new stuff, built on visual comedy so that it could be shown abroad as well as in this country."
But Jimmy said he is not one of the many family entertainers who are waiting in the wings, itching to be back on our screens.
"There are many celebrities who are willing to sell out to appear on the TV. I'm not one of them.
"I have been asked to go on Banzai and The Weakest Link. As much as I appreciate them asking me, they are not my scene. I am happiest whacking out the one-liners to camera with a live audience to bounce off.
"There is a great deal of comedy talent about. Rowan Atkinson is hilarious, Lee Evans is great. Although when I went to see Lee live I thought his language left a lot to be desired. He was funny enough without it."
Comedy was an escape from life for Jimmy. "I academically under-achieved at school and comedy was really my only way out. I believe it to be a gift from God. My first real taste of showbiz was through holiday camps. I discovered them through my brother Brian, who went to one with his girlfriend. He said the Red Coats chat to the campers during the day and sing, dance and tell jokes at night. That sounded just right for me. I soon became one."
Jimmy is religious but does not like to push his beliefs down people's throats.
"I've worked on shows such as An Evening with Jimmy Cricket and (with Don Maclean and Cannon & Ball) A Night of a Thousand Laughs. It was very special to mix my professions with Christianity. But one is not perfect. I make mistakes like everyone else. I think mistakes make you stronger and make you a better person in the long run."
IRISH comedian Brendan Burke heads the Other Side Comedy Club bill at the Spa Suncourt tonight.
Resident compere Jon Reed describes him as "one of the finest and most experienced acts from the
Emerald Isle, the land that has produced some of the biggest stars of comedy in the last decade, including Dylan Moran, Tommy Tiernan, Ed Byrne and Ardel O'Hanalan."
The Scotsman called him "a master comedian; part gorilla, part Travolta and part pure genius," and Hot Press described him as "one of the funniest men in Ireland."
Manchester-based support act Bill Wolland "has been through the wringer of life and come out the other side," says Jon.
"His observational and chatty style encourages audience interaction and allows for a spontaneous and natural delivery that complements his excellent material."
Jon said: "As usual there'll be the added mix of other foolery, open spots, competitions and balcony baiting."
It will be a case of third-time lucky if some of next week's guests make it.
Electric Forecast, who failed to show up for two previous bookings at the comedy club, will be the support act for Dominic Frisby.
The guests the following week, on August 25, will be Harry Denford and Geoff Norcott.
If the weather is unsuitable the show runs indoors, starting at 8pm.
To book tickets ring (01723) 376774.
FEW entertainers have performed in Scarborough more often than Redcar comedian Chubby Brown, who returns to the Futurist Theatre on Saturday.
Chubby, who presented the first of three shows at the Futurist last Saturday, has been giving shows at the seafront venue for years.
His previous show at the Futurist, last September, was his first after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer of the vocal chord in March 2002.
He had three operations and radiotherapy before getting the green light from specialists to get back to work.
This year he is clocking up thousands of miles travelling all over the country, from Torquay to Skegness, and from Scarborough to Rhyl.
Chubby played the mayor of a fictional town called Royston Vasey, which is his real name, in The League of Gentlemen on BBC2 a few years ago.
True to his blue roots, his character swore like a trooper but was persuaded to temper his language while being filmed for TV in one of the episodes.
The mayor controlled his tongue perfectly until the interview was almost concluded, when the reporter
thanked him. "No ****ing problem, mate", he said.
ACTRESS Sarah Moyle is preparing for her third role this season at the Stephen Joseph Theatre.
In Private Fears in Public Places, Sir Alan Ayckbourn's 67th play, Sarah will play Imogen who she says is quite a bit different to her previous characters.
This season Sarah has already appeared in Drowning on Dry Land as the Clown and A Chorus of Disapproval as Hannah.
She said: "Imogen's a bit more common than the other two and is very lonely, as are all the characters in the play. She goes out on internet dates and lives with her brother - it's quite sad.
"I found it a little more difficult to approach because it's a more serious role and I was also loathe to leave Marsha behind as I've been loving every moment of Chorus.
"Even though my real passion is comedy, it has been a dream doing three completely different things."
Sarah, 34, first appeared in A Chorus of Disapproval as Faye when she was 17.
"My dad directed it so I thought it was fantastic. He was a massive Ayckbourn fan so I grew up with him."
Sarah trained as a dancer and ended up doing a lot of West End musicals such as Les Miserables, Oliver and My Fair Lady.
She said: "I'm not the world's greatest singer but I can hold a tune together in a cheery, cockney way, but I never wanted to be just that."
Sarah met the theatre's associate director Laurie Sansom when they were both in National Youth Theatre. He offered her a part in Bedtime Stories and Sarah has been a big fan of Scarborough ever since.
"I absolutely love the place and can't get enough of it. I want to move here and stay forever. It's such a unique place to work because of the atmosphere and I love the fact there is so much going on."
Rehearsals for Private Fears in Public Places have been quite intense for the cast as all but one of them have been appearing in Chorus.
Sarah said the new play, which opens tomorrow, is very different to Ayckbourn's usual style.
"It's more of a movie for the stage, with 55 different scenes. It is almost filmic."
"It's about six separate lives that connect in similar ways, and is quite dark and sad. There are moments of humour but it's not a laugh a minute and is more thought provoking."
The rest of the cast are Stephen Beckett, Melanie Gutteridge, Paul Kemp, Adrian McLoughlin and Billie-Claire Wright.
* A FUNDRAISING event in aid of the Stephen Joseph Theatre's Friends group is coming up.
Tickets cost 17.50 which includes a ticket for Private Fears in Public Places on Saturday evening, followed by a buffet, a glass of wine and a chance to meet the cast, including Stephen Beckett, and Alan Ayckbourn.
BUDDING young stars are taking part in two summer acting schools at Westwood Theatre and the Spa.
The first one, at Westwood, is being run by the Stephen Joseph Theatre, which has divided its squad of young thespians into two age groups.
After two weeks of preparation, the 14-19 year-olds will perform Who's the Daddy? which is based on Oedipus Rex and directed by Cheryl Govan.
Set in 1968, it's about a casino proprietor at the height of his shady career, with a thriving business and a beautiful wife.
Directed by Carri Munn, the nine-13 year-olds will perform Dream On!
It is set in the land of Want, occupied by two opposing tribes - the bling-bling Wanna-Haves and the brave Wanna-Bes.
The double bill can be seen on Friday, at 7pm.
The Spa's theatre school, involving 14-18 year-olds, will result in a production of Chicago a week on Friday, August 20.
It will be in the Spa Suncourt if the weather is good, and in the Ocean Room if it isn't.
Brendan Sheerin, of the Spa, said workshops in song, dance and drama will be run next week, and are "ideal as an introduction to beginners and for brushing up existing skills.
"Each week has a little something for everybody and culminates with the students performing in their own show," said Brendan.
Previous theatre schools at the Spa were dedicated to productions of Oliver in February, West Side Story in April and Annie in July.
The next one will be The Lion King in October.
A NEW show opens at the Corner this week.
Corner Cabaret is described by the producers as "a great night of song, dance and comedy for all the family.
A spokesman for Twilight Productions, who will perform the show at 7.30pm Saturday and on August 21 and 28, said: "The show has something for all ages, from toe-tapping Broadway melodies to hip-shaking rock 'n' roll, and from cool swinging crooners to sensational 70s disco dancers."
It features Twilight regulars Kerry Mackenzie, David Nicholson, James Maughan and Jodi Ates, plus guest performers.
For ticket details ring (01723) 373333.