Interview with Alan Davies

Up The Creek: Exposed Meets Alan Davies. 


He’s solved crimes as Jonathan Creek, challenged Stephen Fry’s witty intellect on the über brainy QI, and fronted a hilarious unscripted show featuring some of my comedy heroes. Now Alan Davies is returning to the stage, where he first cut his teeth, to perform his new stand-up show; Little Victories.

I caught up with the man with the loveliest locks in showbiz to find out how he does it all whilst maintaining a frizz free do…


The title of your latest tour, Little Victories is taken from an anecdote involving your blackcurrant jam hating dad and your 9 year old self. When did you first realise you had a gift for comedy?

It wasn’t really until I was a teenager and I started doing some stuff when I was at college. I had to do Drama O Level at College and before then hadn’t really even considered performing at all until I was 16. I think I used to make my mum laugh when I was little but it was absolutely dormant until I’d done a bit of acting and a bit of mucking about in Drama class. I’d always loved comedy and sitcoms and anything that made you laugh like joke books and all the rest of it


So did you consider becoming an actor first or did comedy pull you firmly in that direction?

Well both I think. I did a drama degree because I wanted to be an actor but I wanted to go to university as well. I was always thinking about doing my own writing as well and I’ve ended up doing some of both. I couldn’t just be an actor; I don’t think I can handle all the rejection and all the waiting for someone to give you a gig. The thing about comedy is you make your own content, you get out and do your own gigs and you do it really almost entirely by yourself. You ring around, you get yourself to the place, you get on stage, and you get yourself home. It gives you the chance to earn a living and be self- sufficient.


And how did being a stand-up comedian come about?

Well I wanted to do comedy when I was at university with friends and get a little sketch thing going; you imagine it’ll be like Rik Mayall and Ade Edmonson. But most of the people I met, we couldn’t quite get a rapport going or I just found them a bit lazy. Then it occurred to me in my final year at uni that there was a chance to do stand- up. I became aware there was a comedy circuit growing in the 80s in London and it was good timing for me really. I spent 5 years on the comedy circuit. I think doing stand- up again, (I had 10 years away from it) I feel like I’m back to my roots really and it’s what I do best.


How has your audience changed in that time?

Well they’re a bit older. A lot of them have grown up with me but lots of people come now who have no idea I ever did stand-up and they’re QI fans. We cover quite a big age range in the audience and that’s possibly because QI is popular across all those age ranges. It’s quite fun when people in the audience don’t know you as a stand-up and it’s a bit of an eye opener for them.


Is the Alan Davies we see on stage the real you, or after all these years as an actor, do you think it’s a bit of a persona you put on?

Well it’s closer to me than anything else, but the real me… I’ve got a 3 and 4 year old, so the real me is thinking about them. When I woke up in my hotel room this morning I heard a noise and I thought I was at home; I thought there was someone in the house or it was one of the kids, then I realised I’m in Ipswich and the kids are a hundred miles away.


Does your tour material come from being a father? Is it quite an organic process and how do you find the time with two tidgy people kicking about?

Well you have to make the time. Much of it is about being a father and my elderly father who is not well. I called the last show ‘Life is Pain’- that came from an anecdote about a little girl who said that to her mum after being told off, which I thought was funny- and I wanted to call this show ‘Sex is Pain’ which comes from an anecdote about trying to impress my now wife; she’s 12 years younger than me and I couldn’t really keep it up, if you pardon the expression. But then my promoter in Australia said ‘we’re not sure you’ll get the right audience’. So we settled on ‘Little Victories’. That refers to getting one over on my Dad. But I cover quite a lot; a couple of hours on stage and it’s certainly not all about me and Dad.


How do your kids feel about seeing you on the telly? Do they know what Dad does for a living?

They haven’t seen me on the telly! My little girl has picked up that I do a show. She asked me, ‘do you do a proper show or is it just a talking show?’ A proper show has dressing up and songs and things. She has asked a couple of times who Jonathan Creek is.


What about your podcast, how did you come up with the name The Tuesday Club?

The Tuesday Club refers to the drinking club at the Arsenal in the 80s and 90s, in the Tony Adams era. They used to go out on a Tuesday and get absolutely pissed in the afternoon and all night. Lots of Arsenal supporters who are older know what the Tuesday Club is. Ironically, I’m coming to the end of a whole year of not having a drink, so I’m certainly not a Tuesday Clubber at the moment.


So there’ll be no popping to the Tuesday Club at the Foundry? Do you get chance to see much of the places you’re touring?

It’s very much get here, do a show, if I stay the night I rarely leave the hotel. If it’s a town I haven’t been to I might get out but I find doing the show quite knackering.


Who’s been your favourite guest so far on ‘As Yet Untitled’ and who would you like to have on?

I really liked having Marcus Brigstocke on and also Jason Byrne. Apart from them being nice blokes and very funny, they’ve done so many other interesting jobs before they were stand-ups so they have loads of funny stories.


What future events are you excited about?

I’ve got various bits of work lined up, more stand up dates next year; New Zealand, Amsterdam, Antwerp; English speaking audiences I’m assured! Then hopefully a sitcom with Jo Brand for Sky next year so that’ll be fun.


And finally, from one curly haired person to another, how do you keep your hair looking so lovely?

You have to use the right tooth of comb, the right amount of conditioner and whatever your favourite product is, then you have to keep your fingers crossed. There can only be a slight change in the atmospheric pressure and you’re absolutely in ruins.

I hear that, Alan.


Words: Teela Clayton.

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