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A LOT OF "TOSH"
Quips and quill sharpened, Geoff Baker offers a personal profile of the man some have been known to call Tosh McIntyre
I first met Robbie McIntosh at the Buddy Holly Week party of 1989.
I was taken along by Paul's PR mandarin Bernard Doherty, who told me as we entered "Put that bloody fag out!"
Poleaxed at the prospect of working in a no-smoking zone I started to shake and yearn for a Marlboro. No one, it seemed, was smoking around Macca.
Just as I was about to dart to the gents for a sneaky puff, and thinking "this is like being in school again", I was reassured by the sight of a mean-faced minder smoking heavily.
"Come and meet some of the band," said Bernard, leading me over to a couple of guys that Mr Meanie was minding.
"This is Hamish," said Bern, introducing me. Hamish said something in broad Scots and I made a mental note "must hire a translator".
"This is Wix," said Bern, and we shook hands.
"And this," said Bern, turning to the minder, "is Robbie McIntosh".
Months later, while wandering around Tokyo trying to find something vaguely edible in the vegetarian line, I told Robbie this.
"Yeah," he replied, "actually I hated your guts when I first met you, because you were always scowling all over the."
"Me scowling? What about you, you grumpy git, I thought you looked like the Anti-Christ."
"Yeah," he said again, "people get like that with me. If I'm not smiling people think I'm gonna beat them up."
At this point - and I swear this is true - I spotted a well-known BBC disc-jockey who knows me very well. Never having met him in a Tokyo high street before I expected him to say "What the hell are you doing here?". As one does.
Instead, the DJ glanced at Robbie (not smiling), gulped and darted headlong into the speeding traffic to avoid us. Shame about the face.
I've seen interviewers react the same way. One American TV journalist, over in the UK to interview the band, sidled up to me all a-quiver after doing Robbie and said "Oh dear, I think I've really upset Robbie McIntosh."
"Did he storm out?" I asked.
"No, but he sort of glowered," she whimpered.
"Oh, well that's alright then."
I only mention this because Old Sour Face is in fact The Funniest Man In The World. In. The. World. Never mind Eddie Murphy or Benny Hill, not a patch on Robbie. Billy Connolly? Not in Robbie's league. Even George Bush's hilarious "read my lips" address - which you've got to admit even a Martian would find hysterical - doesn't compare.
You want examples now, don't you? Yes, thought you might. Trouble is, Robbie doesn't lend himself to examples. That's the problem with writing this profile: it's one of those You Had To Be There To Understand jobs.
You see, the problem with explaining Robbie's humour is that he's not a gag man. He doesn't tell jokes. He kind of tells aphorisms, and they come out of nowhere, without warning. There you are, quietly sipping your twelfth pint of a lunchtime and suddenly he'll chirp up "Reality is for people who can't cope with drugs", or "If the blonde you marry turns out to be a brunette, sue her for bleach of promise". That sort of thing. Or you'll be walking in New York and pass a sign advertising a conference on schizophrenia and Robbie'll mutter "I've half a mind to attend".
Or you're strolling in a riverside park. Everyone stops to feed a swan and Robbie tells it "Take me to your Leda". What else can I tell you? He's a bit of a knowledge junkie. Although he claims otherwise, he remembers those vital little snippets that make living life worthwhile - like the size of the genitalia of the East European Earth Worm.
This is why those of us "with common-sense avoid playing Trivial Pursuit with Robbie. You can never beat him. He gets stuck into those earth worm eroticism questions and you never get to shake the dice again.
Also, Robbie has a tasty line in language (when he feels like it). His reasoning seems to be, why say something simple when something obscure will do? For instance, he'll never say "I'm drunk". It'd be "I'm obfuscated" or "I'm pot valiant" or "I'm nicely thank you'd". This plays hell with the understanding of Americans, who hear him saying "I got nicely thank you'd last night" and look at him in horror as if he'd just joined Village People.
Robbie's aforementioned knowledge of things like the private parts of the East European earth worm is rivalled only by his information about NRBQ.