Sunday, December 13th, 2020, By Bruce Dessau in Beyond The Joke

The worlds of theatre and comedy have been paying tribute to legendary producer David Johnson, who died on Sunday.

Johnson produced countless classic shows in London, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and beyond over more than three decades.

He worked regularly with John Mackay as part of Password Productions, the company formed in 2008. Together they worked with Stewart Lee on his successive acclaimed comedy shows including What Would Judas Do?; 41st Best Stand Up Ever!; If You Prefer A Milder Comedian Please Ask For One; Stewart Lee’s Stewbilee; Stewart Lee’s Vegetable Stew; Stewart Lee’s Austerity Binge; Carpet Remant World; Much A Stew About Nothing.

They also worked with the late Bill Hicks when he toured the UK and produced the Perrier Award-winning Steve Coogan in Character with John Thomson.

Among the recent shows they worked on were Stewart Lee’s Snowflake/Tornado, Sue Perkins’ East of Croydon, Sandi Toksvig’s National Trevor and Stephen Fry’s shows Mythos and Heroes.

Johnson worked with stand-up comedian/actor Dave Johns when he followed up his film success in I, Daniel Blake with an autobiographical solo stage show. Johns paid this tribute to Johnson on Facebook:

“I learned earlier today of the sad passing of legendary producer David Johnson. Those that knew him know what a remarkable lovely man he was .. a glorious flamboyant teller of wicked tales, A big heart and wicked sense of humour.

I spent many a night drinking and laughing at the Edinbugh Fringe’s various watering holes when he’d walk into the bar. David wearing a lanyard around his neck bursting with the various passes one needs to drink late into the night . “Darling what you having “.. he was what a producer should be, if he believed in your show he backed you to the hilt.

Great company at lunch he loved the odd bits of juicy gossip. I had the great pleasure to work with him only once in 2018 when he produced my show I, FILUM STAR at the King Dome…he came up with the name .. He also produced my one man show at Newcastle Theatre Royal . A big big thrill for me.

Edinbugh will be a little less shiny and a lot less fun without this lovely man.. he’ll be sadly missed.”

Comedian/actor Steve Steen wrote: “RIP David Johnson who died this afternoon. A permanent fixture at the Edinburgh Festival and a filthy sense of humour to boot. He will be very very missed by many many people. Sad news.”

Stand-up Jo Caulfield wrote: “Absolutely shocked. He managed to be an absolute gent and be full of filthy gossip at the same time. Every encounter was stimulating and hilarious. What a great loss to our industry. Much love to all his people. RIP.”

Actor Guy Masterson wrote: “The first time I met him was in 1994 in the Assembly Club after he’d sat unmistakably in the front row of Under Milk Wood. He charged in, brought me a pint of Stella and a whiskey chaser, pointed his Nokia 101 at me and announced “I’m going to produce your show…!”Whereupon I told him “I have no idea who you are, but it’s already produced.” He will be missed.”

Actor/comedian Steve Furst wrote: “Just learned of the passing of David Johnson. He was a delightful man with whom I spent many hours of screamingly funny times with. His legacy in London and Edinburgh theatre cannot be underestimated. RIP you dear man. Xx”

In 1997, David was co-recipient, with Mark Goucher, of The Stage/TMA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Regional Theatre.