career longer, he told me, than most Michael Bay movies, Wiggy had obeyed three
simple pieces of advice. Hed tell me what they were, he said, when we got
to the end of our first interview. But only if I came back. Brushing back his
shaggy fringe, as if inviting me to judge its verisimilitude, he told me
Id be welcome to catch him backstage in Crewe. Perhaps Id know
straight away what the rule was.
This was, of course,
too much of a temptation to ignore. (So, what did this advice consist of?
Keep the audience hanging on for an answer, then fail to give it, then
promise it next time? That might sell a few tickets.)
I arrived in Crewe near
midnight because, while his career might have been longer than most Michael Bay
movies, the shows themselves were only a fraction shorter.
(Was that it?
Keep your pop culture references up to date? Except, to be
current, Wiggy ought to have been doing routines about the Snyder Cut. The name
alone supplied the punchline to any number of groanworthy gags).
came, Wiggy said, opening the door that had been conspicuously free of
autograph hunters. (The Wigster kept himself to himself, that was well known.
Arranging the first interview had taken months, which was why Id been so
surprised hed allowed a second.)
Wiggy showed me a seat,
told me he didnt mind notes hed given my shorthand the once
over when Id first met him but hed prefer he wasnt
(Maybe the advice was
about keeping a sense of mystery? He was notoriously shy about TV and radio
appearances. His webpage looked like something from 1998. Did he keep himself
scarce so people had to come out of an evening to see him?)
I accepted the offer of
a drink. Non-alcoholic. No sugar. (Possible rules again went past on my
internal conveyor belt, all of them inviting me to pull the trigger and perhaps
guess out loud, but there was something about the look in his eyes
something about him seemingly being more amused by me that had me
clamming up and waiting for him to lead).
Once again, the hand
through the hair. I was momentarily taken by his watch. A cheap
job. I wondered for a minute if his rule was to at least try to look like a man
of the people. I still didnt say anything.
you half an hour, Wiggy said. He started dabbing at the pancake slathered
on his face. But he was looking at me in the mirror the whole time. It made the
questions harder. Apart from the obvious one.
I watched his fingers
brush at his fringe. Have you had
Wiggy swung round on
his stool. Yes?
But I didnt ask
him that night in Crewe. And we didnt get to the three pieces of
Of all the things I
wrote down in the notebook, though, one proved especially important.
Id swear hes had a hair cut, but
The third time we met,
hed got himself a four-week run at the Winter Gardens over Christmas.
This was maybe a month on from the last time Id seen him, and when he
opened the dressing room door, the look in his eyes and the curl to his lip
practically invited me to tell him there and then. Its got to be obvious
by now, said his expression. And it was. I noticed.
But I still got it
(Its got to be
something to do with the name, Id thought to myself, as I tried to make
sense of the two hours wed already spent together. Its got to be
something about the wig. Or perhaps the lack of wig.)
How do you say that to
a comedy genius?
You find yourself faced
with a man whose hair is now a good inch or so shorter than it was the last
time you saw him, and you just blurt it out. Thats what you
Its not a
wig, I told him. So
Thinking out loud now. Dangerous
territory. So, its got something to do with wanting people to ask
you why you chose your stage name
You never mention it.
Thats it, isnt it? Curiosity.
Wiggy let me finish.
Before reaching into the cupboard and removing the toupee stand.
close, he said, as he peeled the hair from his head.
But no cigar. It was then he slapped down the other two toupees
onto the countertop. No, heres your three pieces of advice, son.
Always wear the right length for the haircut you havent had since they
last saw you. Get em wondering bout that and the name
and, frankly, youll get away with murder in the joke