Comic art of Artemis Fowl

24th March 2006 at 00:00
Primary school was the perfect training ground for author Eoin Colfer, reports Roger Collier

Teachers looking for a change in career should seriously think about becomingstand-up comics.

That at least is the opinion of Eoin Colfer, the Artemis Fowl author. He is about to take his one-man show, Fairies, Fiends and Flatulence, on a whistle-stop tour of the UK, playing eight theatres in eight days.

It will be the first time that the former primary teacher has deliberately presented himself as a comedian.

He said: "Teaching is the perfect training for anyone who wants to go on the stage.

"There is nothing more scary than facing a class of children on a Monday and once you've learned to overcome that, theatre audiences are nothing to worry about.

"Another great advantage that teachers have is a natural way of sizing up a room. You can immediately tell who is interested and who is not. You quickly learn how to get their attention."

The author, who lives just yards from the school where he taught in Wexford, Ireland, became a comic by accident. He never intended to do anything other than write books when he walked away from the blackboard five years ago, after the success of his Artemis Fowl series, adventures he calls "Die Hard with fairies".

"I was on my way from Dublin to speak at a literary function in Edinburgh, which was part of the city's annual book festival," he said.

"Unfortunately, my plane was held up for hours by fans of Robbie Williams who were returning to Scotland after his concert in Phoenix Park, Dublin.

Their aircraft were given priority and I had to spend a night in a hotel.

"I had plenty of time to let my frustration fester and when I got to Edinburgh it all poured out. I went on stage and let out this massive rant about the flight and how Robbie Williams had ruined my trip."

What the father of two boys, Finn, 10, and Sean, three, did not know was that one of the festival's comedy judges was in the audience for his literary seminar.

"The next thing I knew was that I'd won the Herald Angel award for an outstanding comedy performance," said Mr Colfer. "I didn't even know that I'd entered it.

"Now I've started performing, I just talk about whatever comes into my head. Often I walk on stage and have no idea what I'm going to say. I suppose that's all down to my teaching experience."

"I don't know how long this writing thing will last, but if it all ends tomorrow, I won't be too worried. In fact, I know that one day I'll be back in front of the blackboard. I enjoyed teaching and in a way I miss it."

lEoin Colfer's tour, which has already almost sold out, starts at the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff on April 8. He will also play the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds (April 9); Royal Exchange, Manchester (10); Wycombe Swan Theatre, High Wycombe (11); Citizens' Theatre, Glasgow (12); Theatre Royal, Bath (13); Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford, (14) and the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool (15).

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