Lee Evans (comedian)
Lee Evans, November 2004.
|Born||Lee John Martin Evans
Avonmouth, Bristol, England
|Years active||1983–2014 (retired)|
Lee John Martin Evans (born 25 February 1964) is a now-retired English comedian, writer, actor, and musician. He is a director of Little Mo Films, which he had co-directed with the late Addison Cresswell, who was also his agent prior to Cresswell's death in December 2013.
Evans has become one of Britain's highest selling stand-up comedians, with his "Roadrunner" tour grossing £12.9 million. He is also an established actor, having appeared in the Hollywood films The Fifth Element (1997), Mouse Hunt (1997), There's Something About Mary (1998), The Ladies Man (2000) and The Medallion (2003). He lent his voice to "Zippo the Troodon" in the Emmy-nominated miniseries Dinotopia (2002) and made a notable departure from comedy with a leading role in the Irish film Freeze Frame (2004).
In 2008, Evans' Big tour DVD became the highest-selling Christmas DVD in the United Kingdom, as did his Monsters Tour DVD in 2014.
Evans was born in Avonmouth, Bristol, the son of an Irish mother, Shirley Hunt, and a Welsh father, Dave Evans. He has an older brother, Wayne (born 1962). His father was a nightclub performer. His family left Bristol in 1975, moving to Essex, where he attended Billericay School and reportedly was the victim of bullies. After a spell as a boxer and two years at Thurrock Art College, also in Essex, Evans followed his father into entertainment. During his teenage years, he moved to Scarborough, North Yorkshire, and he was a drummer in a punk rock band called The Anonymous Five.
Evans rose to fame during the 1990s with loud, hot, sweaty, energetic stage performances and physical observational comedy. His slapstick humour has led to comparisons with Sir Norman Wisdom, though Evans does not regard Wisdom as an influence. In his earlier work, he used a dysfunctional character called Malcolm to illustrate unusual characters. In 1993, he won the Perrier Comedy Award for his work at the Edinburgh Festival.
Evans' sweat drenches him on stage. During most of his headlining performances, he often takes an intermission, during which he has a quick shower and changes into a different suit. He has also said that his suits are regularly thrown away after three performances, mainly because of the sweat, with dry-cleaners refusing to handle them. In November 2005, Evans broke the world record for a solo act performing to the biggest comedy audience, performing to 10,108 people at the Manchester Arena.
Evans toured the UK in autumn 2008 with his stand-up act entitled "Big". During his "Big" tour he performed in front of over 500,000 people on 59 dates. This was scheduled to involve the first ever performance by a comedian at the O2 Arena in London until Chris Rock announced dates that would take place at the venue prior to Evans. The DVD was filmed at the O2 arena and was released on 24 November 2008 and it became the best selling comedy DVD in the UK for Christmas 2008 selling over 1,000,000 copies. Evans appeared on the Channel 4's Comedy Gala for Great Ormond Street Hospital on 30 March 2010. He was the last act on stage and he received a comedy award and auctioned it to the audience for charity.
Evans toured the UK again in 2011 with a new stand-up act entitled "Roadrunner", with 50 dates starting with Bournemouth in August, running until November in Cardiff. He appeared at the Wyvern Theatre, Swindon on 10 June to test his new material (reading from notes) for the "Roadrunner" tour. He then sold out Bristol's Colston Hall for 3 nights to perfect his routine in July. The tour visited most of the UK's major cities, plus two nights in Dublin, and included four nights in Wembley Arena and four in the O2 Arena, meaning around 100,000 seats in London alone. Tickets went on sale Friday 15 October 2010 at 9 am.
Evans sold £7,000,000 worth of tickets the first day they went on sale. Due to popular demand, there were a further 17 dates added to the tour in Bournemouth International Centre, Brighton Centre, Capital FM Arena, Wembley Arena, National Indoor Arena, The O2, Echo Arena, Motorpoint Arena, Odyssey Arena and The O2. This brought the tour up to 67 dates in 14 cities which is 8 more than the record breaking tour of 2008. In 2011, he was honoured by the British Comedy Awards with the Channel 4 award for special contribution to comedy.
In November 2014, Evans announced on The Jonathan Ross Show that he was retiring from stand-up comedy to spend more time with his wife Heather and daughter Mollie who was studying at university in Florida.
Acting and other work
Evans has made a number of film appearances, most notably in Funny Bones, MouseHunt, There's Something About Mary (where he played an American posing as a Brit), The Fifth Element, The Ladies Man, The Martins, The Medallion and Undertaking Betty. Evans provided the voice for Zippo in the 2002 TV miniseries Dinotopia and Train in the 2005 film The Magic Roundabout. From 1993–94, Evans appeared in the Channel 4 late-night show Viva Cabaret!, both as a host and as a guest performer. In 1995, he starred in Channel 4 series, The World of Lee Evans. In 2001, he co-wrote and starred in the sitcom So What Now? for the BBC.
In 2004, he starred as a paranoid murder suspect in his first non-comic role in the film Freeze Frame. Although warned they may never grow back, he shaved his eyebrows (as well as his hair). In 2004, Evans appeared in Samuel Becket's Endgame, and from 2004 to 2005, he played Leo Bloom in the London production of The Producers along with Nathan Lane, with whom he also starred in MouseHunt. In 2007 he appeared in the 50th anniversary production of The Dumb Waiter. May 2007 saw him star in a television adaption of the book The History of Mr. Polly.
Evans is also a singer and musician, as shown on his arena tours. He can play the guitar, bass guitar, electronic keyboard, piano, mandolin, ukulele, and drums. He also has his own production company that produces his stand up DVDs called Little Mo Films, named after his daughter whom he often refers to as Little Mo. Evans appeared as Malcolm Taylor, a Welsh scientist, in the 2009 Doctor Who Easter special "Planet of the Dead". Between September 2013 and January 2014, Evans starred in the play Barking in Essex at London's Wyndham's Theatre.
On 22 September 1984, he married Heather Nudds, with whom he has a daughter, Mollie (born December 1993).
Evans was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Anglia Ruskin University on 24 November 2009. This was followed by a second Doctorate from the University of East London on 9 December 2010 and is an Honorary Fellow of the Welsh College of Music and Drama.
In 2010 Evans ran the London Marathon with his friend Tony Grounds who wrote The Martins and finished in a time of 4 hours, 55 minutes, and 10 seconds. In 2009, Evans' nephew, Maxwell, died of a defective lung. 'He was an amazing little kid,' says Evans. 'He was funny, he was talented. He was one of us. When you go through that it changes you. He left behind a lot of joy and for me he made me feel I should never waste another day of my life. I think about little Max a lot of the time.'
|1994||Live at Her Majesty's Theatre|
|1995||Live From The West End||1|
|1996||Different Planet Tour||116|
|1998||Don't Try This at Home|
|2002||Wired and Wonderful|
- Not including "Work in progress" shows.
Box office score data
|Venue||City||Tickets sold / available||Gross revenue|
|The O2||London||88,037 / 93,432 (94%)||£4,119,760|
|Manchester Arena||Manchester||53,391 / 54,558 (98%)||£2,567,080|
|The O2||Dublin||17,733 / 17,733 (100%)||£861,649|
|TOTAL||159,161 / 165,723 (96%)||£7,548,489|
|1994||Live at Her Majesty's Theatre||Her Majesty's Theatre, London|
|1995||Live From The West End||Lyric Theatre, London|
|1996||Live – Different Planet Tour|
|1998||Live in Scotland||Playhouse Theatre, Edinburgh|
|2002||Wired And Wonderful – Live at Wembley||Wembley Arena, London|
|2005||XL Tour – Live||International Arena, Cardiff|
|2008||Big – Live at the O2||The O2, London|
|2011||Roadrunner – Live at the O2|
|2014||Monsters – Live||Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham|
|1995||The World of Lee Evans||Lee||Writer|
|1998||Clair de Lune||Pete|
|2001||So What Now?||Lee||Writer|
|2002||Dinotopia||Zippo (a Troodon)||Voice|
|2007||The History of Mr Polly||Alfred Polly|
|2007||The Dinner Party||Leo|
|2009||Doctor Who||Dr. Malcolm Taylor||Episode: "Planet of the Dead"|
|1995||Funny Bones||Jack Parker|
|1997||The Fifth Element||Fog|
|1998||There's Something About Mary||Norm ("Tucker")|
|2000||The Ladies Man||Barney|
|2001||The Martins||Robert Martin|
|2002||Plots with a View (a.k.a. Undertaking Betty)||Delbert Butterfield|
|2003||The Medallion||Arthur Watson|
|2004||Freeze Frame||Sean Veil|
|2005||The Magic Roundabout||Train||Voice|
|2004–2005||The Producers||Leo Bloom|
|2007||The Dumb Waiter||Gus|
|2013–2014||Barking in Essex||Darnley Packer|
Accolades and awards
In 2010, Evans received an Honorary Doctorate of the Arts at the University of East London's graduation ceremony.
|British Comedy Award||
|Paris Film Festival||
|Edinburgh Comedy Award||
|Time Out Comedy Awards||
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