Jazzman John Thomson's guide to jazz: 'If you can’t swing, you’ve got no soul'

He spent six years lampooning jazz as The Fast Show’s Louis ‘Niiiice’ Balfour. But the actor actually loves the music. He recalls the ‘Ceefax jazz’ that first got him hooked

Jazz. The very word strikes terror in many hearts. For others, the word is always followed by “Niiiice” and a smirk. That’s my fault. For The Fast Show, I created Louis Balfour, or The Jazzman as he’s affectionately known, whose catchphrase that was. Louis is still my most recognised Fast Show character: through him, we gently lampooned the genre for the full six-year run of the show in the 90s.

Not that we ever had any trouble getting musicians to appear. In my experience, musicians have a much better sense of humour than many comedians. We’d use session musicians who were all incredibly good – they had to be, because some of the music Phil Pope wrote

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