Funny Bastard, Murray Lachlan Young is best known for his hybrid mix of stand up comedy and poetry. After making a name for himself, in the rock clubs and underground cabaret venues of London in the early ’90s,  thanks to the label EMI, he became the first poet ever to sign a £1m record deal. Now known widely as the “Million Pound Poet”, Young is living in the dark depths of West Cornwall with a resident slot on BBC 6 music. Rohan recently caught up with the man himself to discuss drugs, nudity and poetry, among other things.

Describe yourself in three words that rhyme.
I, I, I.

What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you on stage?
I witnessed a robbery while Shane MacGowan from The Pogues, with a nose bleed, stood nose to nose with me. At the same time, I was restraining a drunken audience member with a neck lock. All the time a very wasted looking Nick Cave was looking on.

What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you so far this month?
With my co-writer Grant Black, I’ve been working on the first staging of my musical with Craig Revel Horwood. It’s been like a strange dream.

When was the last time you got naked in public?
Apart from on Pedney Beach. I read a naked poem for the Naked Rambler as he set off from Lands End.

I’ve heard a vicious rumour you live in Cornwall. Is that true?
Though I spend quite a lot of time in London, yes I do actually live in West, West Cornwall.

Do you have any weird habits?
I pick up other peoples vocal riffs and get stuck with them. I’m currently stuck with the term ‘quids in’ I hate it, It’s like being possessed by a second hand car dealer.

What was the last bit of music you listened to?
A song called Wanker, from my musical.

Did you ever find out how Keith Richards felt about the tribute you wrote?
Yes, Keef sent me a letter saying he wanted to meet up. I’m still waiting.

And do you think you’ve put him under some pressure for when he really does go?
No one puts Keef under pressure.

Tumbleweed Toupee is said to be inspired by a wig you saw rolling around from the wind, but what’s your most memorable or silliest inspiration?
Gotta be the Tumbleweed I think.

Would you ever go into rapping or is just strictly poetry?
Well I have a newish poem about PDiddy which uses a couple of Snoop lines. I guess you could call that rap.

I’ve heard on the grapevine that you were the first person ever to sign a million pound record deal for doing poetry. I’ve also heard your poem about cocaine, which I think is amazing. Is there any connection between where the million quid has gone, and how you got the inspiration for the cocaine poem?
Due to that poem. I went through a stage of attracting huge numbers of cocaine addicts. Can you imagine it? Everyone strung out and being weird all the time. It drove me up the wall. Though I believe in live and let live, I have never been much of a fan of the drug. It’s really no good if you want to live a creative life.

You must be pretty happy to be making a living the way you do. It looks fun. If you could give one piece of advice to anyone who’s tossing up whether to pursue a less desirable, more realistic career path, or take the gamble of chasing their dreams, what would it be?
Life is too short to be unhappy, so why create an environment that does not satisfy you? When you are young you have the ability to dream big. When you are older it is harder, and then your children come. We all have a choice. When I was 23 my mantra was this: Why someone else and not me?

Are there any particular choices you’ve made, or risks you’ve taken that in hindesite have ended up being a huge help in the success you’ve had?
The best choice I ever took was to be brave. Being brave is about doing things when you’re afraid. Failure can be a huge benefit. It can also lead to great success. As the man said: Fail, fail again, fail better. Then you can start to realise that the battle you were fighting, was not with the world, it was with yourself.
I also like this saying: Love life, love yourself, work hard and the universe will do the rest. You are good enough.

Anything new and up and coming to look forward to?
I’m still resident poet at BBC6 music every Friday at 9.55am with Shaun Keaveny, and I’ve also been writing a new play The incomers which goes on tour this spring . Other than that though, I’m just hoping to find time to enter my old Merc into the St. Buryan Vintage Motor Rally. Hey, sometimes you have to dream a little.

Thanks Murray. Good luck with it all. With any luck we’ll catch you at one of your shows!


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