HOW do you get Eddie Izzard, Ricky Gervais, Jimmy Carr, Rowan Atkinson, Michael McIntyre, Jimmy Carr, Lee Evans, Steve Martin and Mickey Rooney into one room in Chester?
Just ask Andy Hollingworth.
The Chester-based photographer – who has become first choice for just about every top comedy star in the UK today – is back on show at the Grosvenor Museum.
Anyone who has seen a stand-up comic on tour, bought a comedy DVD or read an interview with a comedian over the last 20 years, will have likely seen Andy’s work.
Speaking at the launch of his latest hometown exhibition – ‘Reverse Angle: Andy Hollingworth portraits 2005-2014’ – star guest and co-writer of hit BBC series Hebburn Jason Cook called him “the” go-to man in British comedy photography.
The show brings together 50 of Andy’s favourite shots. Some are iconic, some are never before seen, but all capture the characters of the current kings of comedy:
Ricky Gervais taking a break from shooting hit series Kevin, Alexei Sayle a bundle of nerves before a show, Mickey Rooney’s inimitable cheeky grin playing for laughs in Liverpool or Stephen Fry relaxing at the QI Christmas party.
And gone are the days when Andy trekked to London to capture the country’s biggest stars. Such is his reputation that many comedians now come to him in Chester.
Sarah Millican, Rhod Gilbert and Johnny Vegas have all visited his studio in Chester and a selection of the show’s shots were taken in the city.
He was even asked to shoot Johnny Vegas’ (Michael Pennington’s) wedding.
At the exhibition launch, which saw about 200 people cram into the Chester museum, Andy, 46, told the Leader: “I’m really pleased to have the exhibition in my home town where much of the work was made.
“It’s great that so many people have come along tonight.
“This is the first time I have chosen my favourite photos for a show and that makes it even more special.”
Andy, whose own love of comedy was spawned from watching episodes of Dad’s Army during his schooldays, started shooting comedians 20 years ago in response to his most vivid childhood memory – watching his grandad laugh at the antics of Yorkshire comedian Charlie Williams on the 1970s gameshow The Golden Shot.
Since then his success has sky-rocketed, but he said photographing A-listers was still his “Sunday hobby”.
Last time Andy exhibited in Chester, his show broke museum box office records, and he is hoping this collection, which goes on until May 11, will do just as well.
Andy will be giving free guided tours of the exhibition on Saturday March 8, Saturday April 12 and Saturday May 10, all starting at 2pm.
The Grosvenor Museum is open Monday to Saturday between 10.30am and 5pm and on Sundays between 1pm and 4pm, and admission is free.