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Boothby Graffoe (born James Martyn Rogers on October 20 1962), is an English comedian, singer, songwriter and playwright. He is particularly known for his surreal sense of humour and work with Canadian band Barenaked Ladies.
Rogers was born in 1962 in Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, England. For the latter part of his schooling, he attended the Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School in Horncastle. At the age of 18, he became a member of the redcoats at a Butlins on the south coast. He named his alter ego after an English village while driving back from a gig in the late 1980s. His family still live in the Tattershall area. He claims to be the only comedian in the world named after a Lincolnshire village.
Graffoe often incorporates guitar playing into his stage act, through his oddball (and usually slightly twisted) songs, including such titles as "Planet Dog", "Woof" and his album's title track "Wot Italian" (sometimes referred to as "Umbrella Head Boy"). Some of his song titles are still more surreal, in that they do not reflect the subject matter, such as "Giraffes Don't Play Harmonicas, So It Can't Be a Giraffe" and "The Consequences of Living in a Container". He is currently accompanied by the violinist Nick Pynn, having previously toured with acoustic guitarist Antonio Forcione.
He explained his reasons for increasingly irrelevant song titles as - essentially - ways to avoid giving away the key phrases or punchlines in his songs. For instance, he renamed "Umbrella Head Boy" to "Wot Italian" after realising that audiences familiar with his work would ask him to "Play Umbrella Head Boy", thus rendering the surprise element of this line in the song redundant to others.
On a tour of Scotland in February/March 2007, Graffoe announced his intention to retire from stand-up comedy and concentrate on writing for Omid Djalili. He frequently tours as a warm up act for Djalili and Barenaked Ladies. He is a regular performer at the annual Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Graffoe has won several awards, including the 2002 Adelaide Fringe Award for Excellence, and the Time Out Comedy Award. He has also been previously nominated for British comedy's most prestigious award, the Perrier Award.
He started his career in 1988 on BBC Radio Lincolnshire when he presented a two hour programme (Boothby Graffoe Live), on Friday evenings for a few years until late 1990.
He appeared regularly on Radio 4's Loose Ends with the late Ned Sherrin.
The Big Booth BBC Radio 4 (2000-1)
Boothby Graffoe in No Particular Order BBC Radio 4 (2003-2005)
In 2004 he released his first album of songs with Antonio Forcione, Wot Italian? A second disc followed in 2006, a live recording of a show in Brighton billed as Boothby Graffoe & the Following People, the backing band including Pynn.
Boothby has twice acted as support for Canadian band Barenaked Ladies on two of their UK tours; first in 2004 for the Barenaked For The Holidays Tour, and again in 2007 on the Barenaked Ladies Are Me tour. Boothby mostly performs solo, with various members of the band joining him to play bass (Jim Creeggan), keyboard (Kevin Hearn) and drums (guitarist Ed Robertson) for some of the songs.
In January 2008, Graffoe joined the line-up for the Barenaked Ladies' cruise "Ships and Dip III," where he performed solo and with members from BNL and other bands on board. The cruise, with a capacity of 2500, provided some North American attendees with their first experiences with Graffoe and his comedy.
He has championed the work of surreal songwriter Syd Meats, often including Meats's songs such as Far Too Serious in his set.