Making the best of tragic fandom

Looking back, it was probably a good thing that Michael Jackson died. Not for Michael, obviously - bad day at the office - but it definitely did Dan Wright a favour, even if he wouldn’t agree.

Wright is one of the UK’s more fervent Jackson supporters, a fundamentalist fan who slavishly followed the King of Pop around Europe. This included eight dates on the ‘HIStory’ tour and “there was a week in July ’97 where I saw him three times in a week at Wembley Stadium. I got front row and second row, and when I got second row I got really annoyed, even though there’s no difference.”

Yep, pretty obsessive. Somehow he also found time to become a busy actor and comedian, best known for the cult kids (and students) TV show Big Cook, Little Cook, in which he played a tiny chef. Now, three years on from Jacko’s last gasp, Wright is looking at the man in the mirror with a show called Michael Jackson Touched Me. What if another comic had coined that title? “I would dislike them instantly.”

The show will spend August at the Edinburgh Fringe, with Wright hopefully getting some useful audience feedback along the way. The big question: “is the behaviour that’s embedded in me appropriate, or should I do something about it and let it go?” We could probably answer that one now, but at least Jackson’s death has let him move on, a bit. “I bought nine tickets to the O2 shows, out of the fifty,” he admits. “If work had come in I might have found it quite difficult to take it.”

If Wright needs a supportive shoulder during the often harrowing month in Edinburgh, he need only pop across the city’s main square to find a fellow sufferer. Amy Lamé was down the front at a Clash gig a few months back - supporting new favourite band Look Stranger! - but the heart still belongs to Morrissey.

Her Fringe show, Unhappy Birthday, is named after a track from ‘Strangeways Here We Come’, the album that got the New Jersey native into The Smiths - just as they were breaking up. “It was kind of like a very Morrissey moment,” she recalls, “they were given to me then taken away. But then Morrissey came out with his first solo album, ‘Viva Hate’ not too long afterwards. It formed the soundtrack to my growing up.”

Not that she grew out of the Moz fixation. Like Wright, Lamé has kept the faith despite numerous controversies over the years, usually due to the singer’s inflammatory comments. But then we all make the occasional gaff.

“Even with my partner,” ponders the cabaret queen, “she says things that I think ‘oh my god, that’s outrageous, you can’t say that,’ but I still love her. She might be slightly embarrassing sometimes, but I feel like I’ve got that kind of love for Morrissey, the love will never die. Sometimes it’s difficult but that’s okay.”

Morrissey is actually playing Edinburgh as Lamé hits town, so could conceivably attend Unhappy Birthday, which might be awkward. The show is a sort of faux party which “starts off quite happy and jolly, then I realise that Morrissey isn’t turning up and it unravels quite quickly.” So how would she handle his presence? “I’d just have to treat him like a looky-likey I think. Yeah, that’s totally how I’d have to play it.”

And if Jacko turns up for Wright’s show, well, that really would be offputting.

Follow Clash: