Elton John World News: It's a Little Bit Funny

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EJ Opening Act Goes on The Road

Thursday 23 March 2006 @ 17:48 - GMT

The Evening Post recently interviewed Stephen De Martin of 4 Poofs And A Piano, who has worked with Elton and will  soon tour with Joan Collins.

For the first time ever, the actress will be travelling the UK with her live show An Evening With Joan Collins. As if that wasn't enough, she will be joined on stage by the musical/comedy band 4 Poofs And A Piano.

4 Poofs And A Piano is the resident house band on BBC1's Bafta award-winning Friday Night With Jonathan Ross. With an average weekly audience of more than five million, the band provide quirky musical introductions for Jonathan and his star guests.

With their jaunty, comedic reworkings of show tunes, funk, punk, rap and swing, the fellows have become a popular television and club act.

The four Poofs, or Stephen, Ian, David and David as they are also known, first met when they were in a choir together back in 2000. "We used to hover together and eventually decided to form a little group on our own," recalled Stephen. "We had no great aspirations at the time, but we were all good singers with professional backgrounds.

"We took a long time to find our feet direction-wise. We've done so many different things and been pulled in so many different directions that finding out what we actually were took a while. But I think we're there now.

"In the beginning it was about singing nice songs and harmonising well, but after a couple of years we found ourselves moving into the comedy genre more and more, and that's something we all enjoy and feel the most comfortable with."

The ensemble also took a while to decide on a name. Stephen explained: "The name came about as a joke initially. We were doing this charity gig at London's Groucho Club.

"It was our first ever gig and we hadn't been together very long. Someone asked us what we called ourselves, and we were like 'We don't know'. We bantered around some names to no avail until someone said, 'Well what exactly are you?', and we replied: 'We're just four poofs and a piano.' It stuck.

"We have had some negative reaction about the name, but at the end of the day it's only a name. Most people find it funny, and if you get people laughing alongside you it breaks down barriers."

With a name in place, the band slowly started to get more and more bookings in and around London - and then its big break came. When playing at the Groucho Club one night, the four were spotted by BBC producers who were looking for a band for their new feature - Friday Night With Jonathan Ross.

"We were asked to audition for the pilot, which was great. But we had to wait for months for the decision - it was pretty nerve-racking. But we got the gig and the rest is history. The show is fantastic. Jonathan's lovely and the crew are all smashing. We have a great time.

"It's fun meeting all the guests, too.

"There's always been a bit of rivalry between them all as to whose face is going to end up on our T-shirts. We've met some real icons like Madonna, Kylie, Elton John and Julie Walters - they were all particularly lovely. Elton even said that there could be five poofs and two pianos soon."

But the band is still yet to meet Joan, although they will be joining her on stage for her tour.

During the show, the performer will be sharing her life story with the audience. This has included starring in 55 feature films and as Alexis Carrington Colby in Dynasty, not to mention doing spots on TV programmes from Space 1999 to Will & Grace.

In 1997 she received the ultimate accolade - an OBE for her lifetime contribution to the arts and her continuing charity work.

"We haven't met Joan yet, but we will be meeting her before we begin the tour," enthused Stephen. "We're looking forward to that, because we think she's great.

"We are providing the musical and comic entertainment at the start of the show. I think our special blend of harmony and comedy suits the show perfectly. Us and Joan Collins - what a fun and quirky combination.

"On stage we will be playing homage to subjects that are close to our hearts - such as diva worship for starters. We've written a song especially for Joan, called The Biggest Joan In History. There'll also be some stuff about footballers, with songs about Stevie Gerrard's thighs."

An Evening With Joan Collins with special guests 4 Poofs And A Piano will be at the Bristol Hippodrome on Wednesday, April 26. Tickets cost £22.50 and £26.50 and are available from the box office - call 0870 607 7500.

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