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Alan Davies

‘Life is Pain’ with Alan Davies

Alan Davies, star of Jonathon Creek and amiable sidekick to Stephen Fry on QI, comes to the White Rock Theatre later this month.  HOT’s Zelly Restorick spoke to him about his return to the stand-up comedy circuit with his tour, ‘Life Is Pain’.

Alan Davies.  He seems like a good guy.  Appears to be contemplative and philosophical about life, to go a few steps further than most in his thinking – and to see the funny side. But then along with being a writer and an actor, he is a comedian, so seeing the comical side of life is an essential part of the job.

Told that I was interviewing Davies, one friend said to ‘send him my love’ – and to ask ‘what shampoo he uses, as he has lovely bouncy hair’.  Another: “I wanted to marry him”.  Another: ‘Cutieeeee’.  Everyone smiled when they heard his name.

He was at home when we spoke, endeavouring to multi-task: speaking to me on the phone, responding to his little girl chattering to him in the background and emptying a potty. He’s a Dad now and committed family man – and it sounded like he was looking at life from a different perspective.

‘I’ve heard that you talk about scooping poo out of the bath in the show’, I said.

‘Yes’, he replied.  ‘The children are definitely paying their way in material.’

The last time he toured was about a decade ago, giving it up to concentrate on other things.

‘I fell out of love with it’, he said.

Now however, with a sold out tour of Australia under his belt, success at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, bookings through the UK and a tour of New Zealand planned for next year, he says he’s enjoying his return to the stand-up circuit.

‘It’s better now.  I see the family every 2-3 days and I’m not trying to do lots of things at once.  I’m just trying to enjoy every show.’

Does he get nervous before a performance?

‘I don’t enjoy being nervous.  When I am, I ask myself ‘why am I doing this?’… but, once I’m on the stage though and the show starts, it’s enjoyable and I get a lot of pleasure out of the experience.  I couldn’t do it otherwise.’

Where does he find his material?

‘If I hear anything funny or think something’s funny or might be funny, I make a note of it.  I always go on stage and just talk.  The skill involves convincing the audience something I find funny is funny.’

Who makes him laugh?

‘Dave Allen, John Hegley, my friend, Bill Bailey.  I’ve made lots of friends along the way.’

I asked him about the name of the tour, ‘Life Is Pain’.

‘The actual phrase came from a story told to me about a little 6 year old girl, who was being told off by her Mum.  “Life is pain”, she said.  It’s such a strong phrase… it made me laugh.’

Does he think life is a pain?

‘No.  It’s tongue in cheek.  In the show, I touch on things now I’m 46 that I would have shied away from when I was 26.  Everyone has pain in their lives, but I’m still fairly cheerful.’

Is it hard to ‘switch on’ his inner comedian at a set time each night?

‘You just know you have to be happy at 8 o’ clock.  I never think ‘this gig’s going to be awful’, that’s not going to be very helpful.’

He started out on the comedy circuit in the late ’80s, helped by Margaret Thatcher’s Enterprise Allowance Scheme for those with entrepreneurial ideas. Margaret Thatcher is listed as one of his favourite people in his first book, ‘My Favourite People and Me’.

‘Only for a few days though.’

Who are his favourite people now?

‘They’re here around me.

‘Heroes and idols are important when you’re a teen’, he continued.  ‘My wife and I and our little girl watched a lot of the Olympics.  The commentators were often talking about how nice it was to have good role models for two weeks, not vacuous, egotistical people and those famous for reality TV shows.  Looking at the sporting heroes, it was great.  My wife and I are already worrying about female role models for our little girl… going into toy shops and seeing the toys divided up by gender.  We thought it was good for her to see she could be anything she wants.  Role models are very important.’

How does it feel to be a well known face himself?

‘You have to change your life a little bit.  In the evenings, it can be tricky if people have had a drink.  Sometimes you wish you could change your face, but the pros outweigh the cons.  I’m a little bit worried about how the kids will be treated at school.  I find myself worrying about things that happen… fretting…  I have to check myself on that.’

Does your little girl know she has a famous Dad?, I asked.

‘No.  I’ll keep that from her for as long as possible.’

And what does the near future hold for Alan Davies?

‘I’ve got the tour until Christmas, then in January, I’ll be filming a 90 minute one-off Jonathon Creek special episode.  New Zealand.  April to May, working on a new series of QI.. and then’, he laughed, ‘hopefully, a holiday.’

You all look like you’re genuinely having fun on QI.  Are you?  What’s it like?

‘Very enjoyable.  We’ve got a lot more women guests now and have brought some new faces in. Keeps Stephen and I on our toes…  after ten years, we have to keep the show fresh.’

Finally, I asked him ‘why are you here, on the planet, at this time?’.

‘For my family.  Now I have children, I’m no longer here for any other purpose. My whole purpose is to get them to a stage where they can fend for themselves.’

A clear message about his current life priorities.

He came across as a softly spoken family man, dealing with life as it is, getting on and doing what needs doing, funny and thoughtful.  Someone you could have a laugh with if you could just forget the fact it was ‘Alan Davies’ you were talking to.

By the way, he’s a Hastings ‘virgin’, having never been here before.

And he uses Tresemme shampoo and has never had a perm.

And he Tweets.

Wednesday 14 November 2012 : Alan Davies, LIFE IS PAIN.
At the White Rock Theatre, Hastings.
The tour goes through til December 2012 – plus three dates in February 2013.

Posted 12:28 Wednesday, Nov 7, 2012 In: Performance

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