Entertainment & Arts

Alun Cochrane on comedy codependency

His face might be more recognisable than his name, but comedian Alun Cochrane is quite happy to keep it that way.

Image caption Cochrane uses some of his real life traumas in his material

The 35-year-old's career took off after he was nominated for the best newcomer award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2004.

Since then he has toured across the country and more recently has taken part in Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow.

In your show, you do a routine about a heckler who demanded you 'tell a joke'. Did that upset you?

I think hanging the show on it perhaps means that people took it more seriously than I did.

But the "tell us a joke" heckle annoyed me because it's the same as any other complaint.

If I don't enjoy something I wouldn't go online and moan about it. There are some people in society who watch a comedian and think "I haven't liked this so I'm going to tell the blogosphere".

Do you get nervous when you go on stage?

I get nervous before unusual gigs, but I do recurring stand-up so often now that "nervous" is not quite the word.

Nervous sort of implies a fear that I don't really have. I get quite excited about doing it some nights, I really quite like it.

Do you embellish your stories or are they all true?

The famous saying is that you should never let the truth get in the way of a good story. I've got no problem with comedians taking a little poetic licence.

There are no lies in the show. Just the odd embellishment where I'm perhaps funnier in the conversation than I was.

You mention a few personal stories about your wife and mother being ill, does laughing about serious issues help you cope?

I think using humour as a coping strategy is how we get through life.

There are a number of things in my life that I have dealt with by teasing them. It's my coping strategy for getting through life and if you can turn your default strategy into a job than that's great isn't it?

There's always a bit of a risk for each joke. That's part of the fun I think.

The bits where I talk about my wife and my mother are a different sort of risk because they're a level of emotional honesty that perhaps people aren't expecting form a stand-up comedy show.

Are you looking to become a household name?

Image caption Cochrane took part in Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow recently

No, I don't think about stuff like that. I just get on with it, because if you start thinking about things like that you get disappointed if they don't happen.

I think if you want to be famous there are many easier ways to do it than being a professional comedian.

I don't really do it for that. I do it because it's what I do and there are no two ways about it.

You seem rather philosophical and think about things deeply, is that something that you are aiming for in your show?

No, one of the true joys for me is that it can be about everything in life. It can be about your mother being ill and it can be about the sat-nav falling off the windscreen. I love that it can be about both of those within the same five minutes, that's like real life.

How do you know if new material is funny?

It's a process, because it's not always funny at the start and sometimes you sort of sell it wrong.

The real truth is you don't know if new stuff is funny, you just have to keep trying it. I suppose if you're not failing then you're not learning.

Compared with a lot of other comedians your show is quite clean. When do you think a joke crosses the line?

I honestly don't think too much about that. I think sometimes people don't really explain themselves and they make crass remarks without justifying it.

I don't really worry about comics being offensive. There are some offensive comics who I think are wonderful.

What is your long-term plan for stand-up?

I'd love the phone to ring with some opportunities, but I can't really worry about that.

I worry about the things I can control - my stand-up and my home life. I just get on with that.

Alun Cochrane's tour, Jokes. Life. And Jokes About Life, ends on 5 December.

The comedian was talking to Entertainment reporter Fiona Bailey.

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