Friday, February 26, 2010

The Scotsman runs Jason Wood's obituary

It's been a week since Jason Wood's last performance, at a club in Bournemouth, England, before he went home to his in Sudon and "died in his sleep" at 38, and he has finally received his first major mainstream obituary and appreciation in a major mainstream newspaper.

Word of the passing of this internationally-known musical impressionist and reality television star has traveled slowly through the UK news media, buy as reports spread, more and more people realize they were very familiar with Jason Wood, after all.

Wood's story was first reported here as "the gay British Danny Gans" because of his act's-- and death's-- similarities to those of the Las Vegas headliner, who died in his sleep at 52 on May 1st (Gans, it would turn out, died of an overdose of a powerful opiate-- Wood's autopsy results are pending), and while many wrote off Danny Gans as being "known only in Vegas"), so it is that Jason Wood had a more select audience, first in gay clubs, then on digital television and the elite Edinburgh Fringe Festival scene.

His importance and place in comedy history, however, is slowly being recognized as being far more than the first celebrity to be booted off the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing.

This morning, we find his obituary in The Scotsman:

Jason Wood
By Aladair Steven

Stand-up comedian who was known for his camp send-ups and outrageous put-downs

Jason Wood, comedian. Born: 21 January, 1972, in Bedfordshire.

Died: 20 February, 2010 in Bedfordshire, aged 38.

Jason Wood was one of those comedians who set the Fringe alight annually. His irreverent and wild humour was balanced by a friendly on-stage manner: no matter how rude the chat, the audience loved it.

It certainly made him a popular visitor to Edinburgh. He quickly made a name for himself on the Fringe with his camp humour. Wood, who was openly gay, told the most saucy jokes and got away with it. He certainly could pinpoint a member of the audience and go on relentlessly about his or her hairstyle, the dress ("that blouse is all wrong") or even "Do the clothes come from the garage?"

But such was Wood's charm that audiences loved him and the person who was the centre of his attention considered it all a privilege.

His flair for publicity also endeared him to Edinburgh. He became front page news as the master of theatrical spin when The Scotsman gave his show (Being Glorious at the Assembly Rooms in 2004) a none-too-nice review. The reviewer did not mince her words and gave Wood a single star. Unperturbed, he walked round the city with "A Star - The Scotsman" on his publicity material. It proved a brilliant piece of spin doctoring and made his name overnight.

Wood started out on the gay circuit working principally round the pubs doing impressions mostly of such gay icons as Cher, Madonna and Alison Moyet. Wood had a wicked routine on stage. He seldom had a set show but would react to the audience with vicious, comic asides or put-downs. His impression of Cher was bitingly accurate; all effected by the voice there was never a quick change or even a wig.

The same went for Barbra Streisand, whose arm gestures Wood sent up wonderfully. Both impressions included searing falsetto notes which defied description. Sometimes Wood did Nessun Dorma with all the flourish of Pavarotti.

But many in Edinburgh will remember him for his live stand-up show. One thing was for certain: a lady's handbag and its contents were never safe. He'd lean down to a lady in the front row and hold up her handbag and ask quizzically: "Did your nan give you this, then?" Out would pour all the contents with quips such as, "Do you really need all this?" followed by "And this? What is this?" Inevitably there was one member who would try to take Wood on and shout out something unnecessary. Quick as a flash Wood would reply: "Did you really have to say that? Do you think you're a 14-year-old at assembly? Well I'll tell you I am no **** supply teacher."

Wood first came to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2001 and often said how grateful he was for the opportunity at the start of his career. His first visit was almost his last. He was at the Gilded Balloon with a show called Wild. In the third week he had trouble seeing and was rushed to the Princess Alexander Eye Hospital. After attention he returned to the show only to discover on his return to London that he had meningitis. "Although I dreaded the prospect of having to go back to Edinburgh the next year," Wood once wrote in The Scotsman, "I did and have loved it ever since."

Wood gained wider acclaim came when he joined the BBC 1 wind-up series Spy TV. As a result of that his, bookings on the club circuit became more regular and in 2004 he was booked to appear in Strictly Come Dancing on Saturday nights with Bruce Forsyth. His partner Kylie Jones ("She turned my thundering steps like a careering jumbo into a small 737 with wing tips," he wrote).

Sadly they were the first to be voted off the programme. Wood then was a contestant on the second series of The Upper Dog on BBC2, hosted by Julian Clary. He and his dog (Jim) were eliminated but did win fourth place. Wood was becoming a regular on digital television; for example he was seen on Hell's Kitchen and last November on BBC3's The Naughties. Wood's career was fast steadily expanding and he had broadened to encompass after-dinner events and charity functions.

He had recently started a regular variety night at The Hospital Club in London's Covent Garden and had been booked to represent Britain at a two-month comedy festival in Sun City, South Africa, this summer. In March he was scheduled to have made his first album comprising songs he had written himself.

Wood had returned from performing in a Bournemouth club to his home and died in his sleep.


Jason Wood's funeral services are set to take place Monday, March 15 2pm at St. Mary’s Church, Manor Road, Lower Sundon, Bedfordshire, followed by a reception at Kents Athletic Club on Tenby Drive. Wood's family says "all are welcome to attend."

1 comment:

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