Adam Robertson spoke with comedian Tim Vine about the 10 things that changed his life. 

1. Darts

I first watched darts on TV in the 1980s. My great hero was Eric Bristow (below) who I very fortunately got to meet and play darts with.

I beat him 2-1 in a best of three match in 2010. It’s nothing to be too proud of, he was no longer the player he once was. He was my sporting hero.

For my fourteenth birthday, I was given a dartboard and I think I have played hours and hours of it and I’m 56 now. I love the game.

The National: Eric Bristow in action during the World Darts Championships held in 1985 at the Jollees Nightclub in Stoke, England

I’ve been playing since I was 14 which is an enormous amount of time. I remember chatting with ex-world champion Adrian Lewis on one occasion and I said to him, "when did you first throw a dart and when did you play for the county".

He said he threw his first when he was 18 and by the time he was 20 or 21 he was playing for the county. I know for a fact I’d played more darts between the ages of 14 and early 50s than he had between 18 and 21 and I never played for the county.

I can get up to a certain level, admittedly I’m not playing eight hours a day. I love the maths of it, I love the fact that like all amateur sport you have moments where you do great things.

2. Songwriting

When I was young I used to want to be a popstar and I write all my stuff for my comedy act and it’s something I love.

That began when I was at a local refuse tip with my dad when I was 12 or so and it was back in the days where there was a large pile of rubbish and you could go up and take something.

There was a guitar there with one string on it and I took this back home. It sounds like we were living in a cave but I did eventually have my own guitar.

READ MORE: Ian Blackford on the 10 things that changed his life

I got a lot of joy out of this guitar with one string. I recorded songs on it and it’s an unbroken line between my one-string guitar and where I am in terms of songwriting.

Now I’m up to six strings.

3. My MT-40 Casio keyboard

Having started with the one-string guitar, I got this little keyboard I bought for £99 when I was 16. Now they turn up in charity shops for about £20 so I’ve no idea how it cost that much.

I still write lots and lots of songs on it and I’ve never, ever wanted to replace it with something more modern. A friend of mine has a recording studio, and I go there and record all the backing tracks with him.

Despite all the equipment and keyboards he has got there, my MT-40 and my guitar have been stalwarts throughout my life.

4. The Comedy Café

It was a comedy club that’s sadly no longer there in London. I was working in an office in Croydon and I was mates with a security guard at the club. I was looking through the Stage newspaper one day at adverts and things.

At this point, I was working for some financial advice firm but I was admin so I didn’t really know what the job was.

We discovered the Comedy Café and you could just ring up and put your names down. Me and the security guard both did it and did five minutes. I didn’t get many laughs, I think I got half a laugh.

But that was my first discovery that there was such a thing as a comedy club and that was where my love of stand-up really started and I went along every Wednesday.

5. Elvis Presley

We all have people we worship. I think of lots of film stars, I think Paul Newman and Robert Redford are fantastic. But his charisma just captivated me.

I don’t know if there’s something in the fact that I really became interested just after he died when I was around 11. I don’t know if he’d lived if I’d have been such a fan, I think when you can’t see someone and they’re not producing anything, you can’t meet them or see them live, something maybe made him more fascinating.   

The National:

Of course now there’s so much stuff available but unfortunately he’s never produced anything again. Once in a while you see a new clip or video but throughout my formative years, there’s something about him I find intoxicating.

I remember a review of him which described him as a “prince from another planet” – it was like someone had designed a prototype pop star.

There are things I do, little ticks and things with my hands, that I’ve seen him do. I do an Elvis tribute act that I started about two or three years ago.

6. Church

My mum and dad were very keen Christians and every Sunday in Cheam, my hometown. I made lots of great friends at church and I often think to myself what if I’d never gone.

Aside from the fact that I’ve got my Christian faith, I just think socially it was so incredible. If we’d never gone to that local church, I would have had considerably less friends locally.

You just got to know so many people from Cheam because we were all in the same church.

Right from the word go, I was growing up there, I was christened there so 100% that local church, St Paul’s in Cheam made a big impact on my life.

My faith is all part of that as well but just purely the local church was a big thing.

7. My dad

My dad passed away in 2018. I could put my mum as well. I love them both but my dad had a particularly fun outlook on life. He made my brother and I loft rooms where you go into cupboards in your room where you go up a ladder and there’s a room there.

He was always building things. He made a tree house for the three of us and it was about the size of another house. I remember we did a thing, this wasn’t my idea, but we took my bedroom door off its hinges, hung a pot of paint over it and swung it so that it would leave a design on the door.

He made us go-karts out of pram wheels. I think that joy of making stuff and looking for the fun in things must have had some influence in the way I do my act. I make lots of rubbish out of cardboard.

READ MORE: Edinburgh Fringe: 10 things that changed my life with Greg Esplin

Another thing he did was we made this coffee lid where I’d give him a shout from my bedroom and a pulley system would pull it up but it ended up exploding. But I loved that sense of fun, he was at peace with himself and the world, he was a happy man.

I aspire to be like him in terms of his approach to life.

I asked him about it once and what he thought about. He said: “Well that’s the whole point, I don’t think about anything.”

8. Edinburgh Fringe

I’ve been on a lot of tours since about 2003 or so. As a comic, when you get that first hour-long show, you’re obsessed by times. When you’re doing open spots, you start off just doing five minutes which is a considerable amount of time because if you have to stand up in front of a few hundred people, a few seconds is a long time if they don’t like you.

But you start to think can I get up to five minutes, to 10, to 20. The first time I did an hour was the Tim Vine Fiasco at the Fringe.

The National:

The five of us did this show and we got a newcomer award in 1995. That thing of feeling like I can do an hour, it’s a stretch to then do it on your own, but the Fringe is a great place to hone your skills.

It’s so relentless – if you do 24 hours then you’ve spent one day on stage. By the end, you feel you really have a show although I guess you should have that when you start.

I worked out I’ve spent over a year of my life there.

9. The internet

Up until the pandemic, I didn’t have the internet at home. My agent would ask if I’d looked at emails and I’d go down the local library to look. That’s how I functioned, I don’t look at them every morning.

When the pandemic hit, I wanted to play Scrabble with my mum because she lives on her own and we had these family Zoom things. Largely speaking, I think it’s a distraction.

I got this iPad and was filming loads of things on iMovie. I did this thing called nuthatch watch, it sounds pathetic, but I hadn’t had the internet so I used to watch this bird come to my garden and try and film it. I suppose it changed everyone’s life but it changed mine a bit later than everyone else.

10. Marie Kondo

Whenever I watch those programmes about hoarders, I look at that and think I’m not like that, I’m not keeping rubbish.

However, I do live in a bit of a mess and I keep props and stuff. When you get a new hour-long show, you get a lot of props and I don’t want to throw them away.

I haven’t actually put this into action yet but this woman Marie Kondo is incredible. She has made me realise there is a way to tidy up clutter.

READ MORE: Lynn Ferguson: 10 things that changed my life

I bet this will change everyone’s life. Her big thing is don’t tidy by room, “tidy by category”. In other words, don’t go to the living room and tidy, start with CDs – go through the whole house and get them all in one place and ask how many you want.

I haven’t actually activated this because it requires effort. But it does strike me that this is a great idea.

Tim Vine is playing a number of dates across Scotland as part of his new tour – more details and tickets can be found HERE.