SWAN pedaloes, steep funiculars and the rag-tag collection of local misfits - Steve Furst fell in love with all them during his spell nestled in the bosom of Burtons’ St Leonards.
The comic, know paradoxically by many as ‘the ball ginger one from the Orange mobile phone adds’, upped sticks and relocated to 1066 Country after growing tired of the rat race of the big city.
While here he took time out from walking his dogs on Fire Hills and strolling along the prom to help start up the hugely popular Laugh It Up comedy night.
As resident compere, Furst became synonymous with the birth of Hastings as a comedy hot-spot. In fact, such was his prowess on the mic, it became a local by law to always use the prefix St Leonards Funnyman, when referring to him in print. Well, maybe not quite. But it should have. This paper certainly adhered to it.
He may have since moved back to London but Furst maintains his heart is still very much here in Hastings.
In fact, bucking the trend, he is already busy hatching plans to move back in the near future. Possibly as a result of the famous Curse of Hastings (legend has it anyone who leaves will be drawn back unless they find a stone with a hole in it). Or possibly just because, in St Leonards, he found somewhere he felt at home.
“The great thing about Hastings and St Leonards,” he told the Observer, “is that it has so many characters living here - all seeming to gravitate to the same place.
“Not only the artistic community, but the musicians and, well, the oddballs and eccentrics.”
Furst himself could fall into the later category. Polite and unassuming, he initially shot to fame under a veneer of make-up and spangling suits after spawning his larger than life cabaret star alter-ego Lenny Beige.
Beige emerged while Furst promoted his popular London night The Regency Rooms, and in perhaps a political tale trumped in weirdness only by Hangus The Monkey being voted mayor of Hartlepool, Furst stood as Beige for the 1997 general election in Putney.
He didn’t win. But what was politic’s loss was comedy’s gain.
Furst went on to appear in Little Britain - playing an anchoring role in the sketch named the best ever (the one where Lou dives from the top board into the pool).
And later this year he starts filming a pilot for a new sitcom written by Furst’s close friend Dan Cadan. The subject? British wrestling. “I can’t wait,” enthused a noticeably excited Furst, “it has a great cast, including Stephen Graham from This Is England, and has been a long time coming. Dan and I have always shared a love of the Big Daddy era wrestling so this is a dream come true - not to mention the funniest thing I have read in a long time.”
First up for Furst though is the Venuu date on Thursday - a show which will be followed up by a fundraiser for Hastings Pier in November.
But what can people expect from the man who helped put the comedic sting into Hastings? “It won’t be a polished performance by any means,” admitted Furst.
“I have not done traditional stand-up for a long time so I may be a bit rusty. The plan is to have something very informal - a bit like an extended version of when I compere.
“Hopefully it will still be funny - that is certainly the plan - but it won’t be stand-up in the usual sense and it certainly won’t be anything like the Lenny Beige shows I do.
“I will be keeping it local as well. I have written a lot of new local material and I am really looking forward to getting back in the Hastings swing of things.
“There is literally nothing better than sitting in George Street, having a drink and chatting to people passing by.
“I have really missed the place.” Hastings, it would be fair to say, has missed you too Steve. Welcome home.
Steve Furst appears at Venuu in George Street on Thursday, October 28, from 7.30pm.