Interview: Alun Cochrane
Alun Cochrane is bringing his tour ‘Jokes.Life.And Jokes about Life’ to the Durham Gala Theatre on November 6th , straight from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer. After finding out he was colour blind as a teen his dreams of becoming a pilot were quickly dashed, but luckily for us the Yorkshire man chose the correct profession. He even says himself, “I always knew I would be a comedian”.
CB: You’ve been on tour for a while now, how is it going?
AC: It’s going fine; I’m doing a lot of driving. It’s fun.
CB: You’re taking your tour to Durham – is there a reason you’ve chosen this town?
AC: I just go anywhere that will accept me, anywhere that will have me. I’ve been to the Gala Theatre before. I’ve done a comedy night there earlier in the year and they’re willing to have me back.
CB: The tour, ‘Jokes. Life. And Jokes About Life’ is based on your Edinburgh Fringe Festival show that you’ve done before. What made you want to take it on tour? Was it well received?
AC: It’s an extended version of the show and does basically what it says on the tin. There’s jokes about life and jokes in general. I tend to do clubs and the Edinburgh festival in summer then I take the show on tour after that. It’s pretty much the same every year. It’s a bit of a boring answer but that’s how it is. My life is very scheduled.
CB: You cover things from married life to peaches and bananas on trains. Do things happen to you and you think, ‘That’s funny I’ll talk about that’?
AC: It’s just literally stuff about life. I find things funny and try it out, if it doesn’t work with the audience I won’t do it again. I’m not stubborn like that. It’s a little game I do in the show to try things out and I won’t use them again. I basically see stuff that’s funny, like a woman with a banana on a train and think, ‘I’ll use that’. It’s also stuff I’ve thought was funny when driving around doing the tour and things from talking to people in the front row.
CB: You got your first taste of stand-up at school doing impressions, how did that come about?
AC: I was 11 and the school did a little talent show for old people, and I did stand-up and impressions which I stole from TV. We were on holiday and I got told that there was going to be a talent show, so you know how obnoxious children are I thought, ‘I’m the only little boy that could put on an act and win’ and I did. Now 24 years later and it’s my living but if you were 11 now and did the same you’ll probably end up on Channel Four presenting a show. People seem to get snapped up a lot quicker.
CB: You must have been a confident young boy to do something like that. Would you say you were the class clown?
AC: We moved about so I ended up going to a few different schools by the time I was nine. It’s awful being the new boy at school – you either have to be able to play football, fight or be funny. I found it easier to make people laugh and it was a way to make people like you. I wouldn’t say I was the class clown it was just a way of making people like you.
CB: You received the Writers Guild award for comedy. How did this happen?
AC: I was doing a show in Edinburgh in 2004 and afterwards I received a piece of paper which was the award. Awards are what they are, I just get on with it.
CB: You’ve said you’re thinking about joining Twitter, so have you succumbed to the craze?
AC: I’ve decided not to get it, mainly because I’ll have to deal with prats. If they want to know what I’m doing in my daily life come and see my show. I don’t have Facebook or MySpace. I think Twitter is a good way of marketing yourself, but in truth I don’t want to get into all that. I sound really grumpy but it’s just the way it is.
CB: You’ve appeared on a lot of stand up shows such as Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow. How does it feel to tour your own show by yourself?
AC: It’s great. It’s my third national tour and second in a row. Even if you fill up a small room then it’s great but obviously bigger places pay the bills. Saying that the best show that I’ve done in my life was at an Arts Centre in Scotland to 80 people, it was lots of fun.
CB: You’ve obviously met a lot of people in the industry. Is there anyone you think is the next big thing?
AC: No. It’s not for me to say who is up and coming – the industry will decide. It doesn’t really matter who’s really good the industry will make them famous. The really good ones are the ones who have been doing it for ages. They’re old and good at it.
CB: Is there anyone who made you want to be a comedian? Who inspired you?
AC: Billy Connolly, Frank Skinner and Jerry Seinfeld. I loved stand up when I was a child. It was Billy who I loved, then Frank. They’re a big influence on my stand-up. They are all about the man behind the mike, covering stuff about life – not stuff that the audience can’t relate to.
CB: You’ve got a young son – how would you feel if he wanted to follow in your footsteps and go into the industry?
AC: In all seriousness he’s three – I haven’t really chosen or thought about a career for him! I’m more worried about the type of scooter he wants next.
CB: Finally, do you think the industry is male dominated?
AC: I don’t really think about it. I did a programme last night and there was a lot of woman. I can’t really comment as it’s not part of my life but I think there’s a lot of woman in comedy but they tend not to carry on maybe because it’s not seen as a stable career.