A record 72 people squeezed into the Three Crowns pub in Chippenham to see Porky the Poet, better known as TV comic Phill Jupitus.
The fundraising “secret” gig, held exclusively for the lucky ticket holders, was organised by Chippenham’s award-winning comedian Wil Hodgson, who was described by Jupitus as “the heartbeat of this town”.
Mr Jupitus and the other acts performed for free at the pub on The Causeway, so all £720 raised from ticket sales could be given to Doorway, the town’s charity helping homeless people. Mr Jupitus said: “I asked Wil to choose a benefit. He and I go way back. We’ve been discussing doing this for ages.”
And the comedian told his audience: “You’ve got an amazing resource in the shape of Wil.”
The gig, only advertised in the pub and billed under Jupitus’ childhood nickname Porky the Poet, had the atmosphere of a house party.
Chippenham town councillor Rob Jones rushed straight from a town council meeting to go on stage. He described his experience of performing as “terrifyingly wonderful”.
His mixed recital ranged from Dylan Thomas to Salford’s punk poet John Cooper Clarke.
Coun Jones said he was very nervous, but was so well received he continued well beyond his 10 minutes, prompting Porky the Poet to kick off with: “I’m only doing 10 minutes, so I hope you don’t have to be up early for work!”
Between verses, Porky launched into a vitriolic rant about BBC Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson.
An audience member trying to join in was shot down with: “You didn’t come to rehearsals.”
Mr Jupitus said he would like to return to Chippenham. It was the first time he had been in the town, but as a child he had spent school holidays camping in Calne – in his mate’s grandmother’s back garden.
He said in his set he wasn’t surprised Joseph Priestley discovered oxygen in Calne because when he went into the Black Horse pub he felt an atmosphere.
“Never Mind The Buzzcocks is the day job. These are the gigs I love doing,” the jovial performer said.
Mr Jupitus said he was going to see actor David Hemmings grave at St Mary’s Church in Calne before heading home.
Jess Purton, a regular at Mr Hodgson’s comedy nights, said she and her friends had been a bit dubious about a poetry night.
“We weren’t too sure about poetry,” she said. “But it was really funny.”
Now the pub intends to resurrect the former poetry night there.
Three Crowns landlord Steve Jenner said: “It’s nice to have someone of Phill’s stature come to such a small venue. He’s put the Three Crowns’ comedy nights on the national map – it’s kind of bizarre. It wouldn’t have happened without Wil.”
Support came from punk poet Tim Wells and stand-up Richard Sandling, who studied media studies at the University of Luton with Wil and travelled from Essex with Mr Jupitus. In Mr Sandling’s set, he compared what the Government is doing to Britain with what Michael Jackson did to his face.