Where we talk to comedian Alun Cochrane about Greek philosophers and football shirts.
You’ve been described as downbeat, dour even. Would you agree with that?
“Dour, yes, I think it’s because I’ve got this slightly weather-beaten look at the world. I suppose when you’re younger you’re a bit more bubbly and ‘Heyyyy, everything’s going to be great’ and I don’t know how funny that is. I think people quite like it when you go ‘Things aren’t great but here’s a load of jokes about it’.”
It must be hard to be so straight faced when you’re making a roomful of people laugh.
“Exactly. It’s not a facts night, is it? I’m not gathering people to hear my wisdom of the word, I’m gathering them to laugh at me. Stand-ups are prone to thinking a bit too much and it’s just telling jokes really. I like it to be my stuff and with a reasonable amount of intellect and originality but I don’t want to upset myself too much that I want to think about it again and again every day for the rest of my life.”
Do comics over-analyse their material in that way?
“Yes. I know I do and I’ve got friends who are guilty of it. But a part of it is that when you’re on tour you’ll do an hour or so then you’ve got about 22-23 hours of the day to think about it; it’s not a nine to five job where you’re working for someone else. We’ve got a vested interest in doing as best we can and we’ve also got a lot of spare time to navel-gaze, which can be useful because you can make your act better but it can also be destructive because you can start picking away at the things that are good in the show.”
You’re a Huddersfield Town supporter. When you play the Slade Rooms at Wolverhampton, with it being a big football town why don’t you wear a Huddersfield shirt on stage? Those nice blue and white stripes would go down well; you might get out of the room alive.
“That’s great advice. It’s how I judge a good gig, getting out of the room alive.”
Do you ever see the big venue sellers and think ‘Bastards, I’m funnier than you.’?
“Not really. Some of them I’m probably funnier than, but it’s not about that it’s about how many TV shows you’ve been on and how many people know about you. I also think be careful what you wish for, I’m not sure I’m an arena kind of guy. I wouldn’t be comfortable about playing arenas partly because I wouldn’t be happy about me causing that much traffic. If 9,000 people come to see you do stand-up I’d just think it somehow makes it a bit more important whereas in the past I’ve devoted five minutes to talking about chopping boards or pizza toppings. I revel in the mundane and if you gather that many people there’d be a temptation to start talking about things they think are more important.”
“Stand ups are modern philosophers in the sense that olden philosophers were sitting down and having a think about how we can get through life, and there’s quite a bit of that in what stand-ups do. I like the fact that we’re having doubts – think about how many stand-up routines are about the madness of modern technology and there’s something in that. Making people think ‘Are we really sorting it out, because it seems to be getting worse?’. The new doors on train toilets for example. You can be standing there and suddenly someone’s watching you have a piss. Is that progress?”
There’s got to be one comedian you don’t like though, and you want to start a feud with.
“I can’t think of one. It’s sexy for rock’n’roll stars to be in a spat but comics just look bitter if you start slagging off an arena comic, it just looks like you’re bitter for being overlooked. The reality is I had one run-in years ago with Dom Jolly, who’s a prick and I don’t mind you publishing that at all. But, who really cares that I think Dom Jolly’s rubbish? Nobody. I don’t, I really care that my work is good.”
And is your new show any good?
“Yeah, it’s great. Some of the best I’ve ever done. It’s about whatever I think was funny in the last year. There’s no overriding theme, there’s stuff about my children, about my life, about sex, all sorts of stuff. Everything’s in there. But no deep, meaningful philosophy.”
No great insight, but we’ll come out a lot happier afterwards?
“I hope so.”
Alun Cochrane’s Me Neither is at Warwick Arts Centre on 18th February and the Slade Rooms Wolverhampton on 1st March. Tickets are available at www.aluncochrane.co.uk