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The 12th Man

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The 12th Man was the alias of Australian humorist and sometimes sports journalist Billy Birmingham. Born in 1953, Birmingham first attracted widespread attention in 1983 as the writer behind performer Austen Tayshus' comedy hit Australiana. Around the same time, he began developing the 12th Man concept, which capitalized on his consummate skill as an impressionist to lampoon the hyperbole of professional sports, in particular cricket. (Even the name is a reference to the non-playing reserve on a cricket side.) Regularly targeting famed Aussie cricket commentators including Richie Benaud, Bill Lawry, and Tony Greig, the 12th Man LPs (beginning with 1984's It's Not Just Cricket) essentially comprise a series of extended satiric narratives purporting to offer a behind-the-scenes look at the Nine Network's broadcasts. Birmingham traditionally plays all the roles, outsourcing a handful of female characters to different actresses. In 1992 Birmingham scored a hit single with the 12th Man's "Marvelous," featuring backing vocals by Aussie rockers Jimmy Barnes and John Farnham. The song was also re-recorded that same year for the smash full-length Still the 12th Man. Despite six consecutive number one efforts, Birmingham hinted at retiring the 12th Man concept after 2001's two-disc The Final Dig? He nevertheless returned in late 2006 with Boned!, which debuted atop the Aussie charts thanks in part to the single "Marvelous 2006." ~ Jason Ankeny

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Birth Name:

Billy Birmingham

Years Active:

'80s, '90s, '00s