Interview: Hal Cruttenden

Death, Brexit and KFC – stand-up stalwart and TV star Hal Cruttenden talks about taking on the big issues with is latest live show, ‘Chubster’.

So, you’re currently on the ‘Chubster’ tour. What’s it all about?
It’s about lots of things. Someone said to me: “There’s a thing that people say on the circuit – that you’d be massive if it wasn’t for Michael Macintyre.” I really like Michael Macintyre but I’m not like him at all – it’s just that I’m posh and chubby!

Other than being posh and chubby, what themes run through the material?
There’s quite a bit on death, there’s a lot on my kids not really respecting me, there’s a bit of politics – I can’t really avoid politics at the moment. It basically covers all sorts of topics but it starts with talking about death and finishes talking about death. I promise it’s funny every step of the way!

The image on the poster is of you punching clean through a bargain bucket. Do you have a love/hate relationship with KFC?
Oh, I really do. KFC is absolute quality. I mean, I know it’s actually awful. I’m down to about one visit a month and I’m trying… but it’s just pure emotional eating. I can tell loads of fast food is just rubbish, I can taste a Macdonald’s and know it’s not good, but KFC just still tastes good. I do think their hot wings are absolutely superb. There’s a drive-through in Enfield, so I usually hide somewhere and hope that nobody I know sees me as I eat it in my car.

You started the tour off this summer in Edinburgh. Do you enjoy the Fringe Festival or does it get a bit intense after a while?
I actually enjoyed it less when I was younger. I get a bit homesick because of leaving my kids and my wife, but my kids will now come visit with friends and they can just have the run of the city. My wife hates Edinburgh, because of the memories of all the stress years earlier and this year she had to do lots of work on a book so didn’t come up at all. Appalling. That’s what 18 years of marriage does to you – you’re very very happy having a month apart!

You did a show at the Fringe called ‘Brexit’. Can we expect some more analysis on the current situation in your new show?
There is a fair bit of mentioning it in there. I actually say it to the audience going; I know some people find politics boring and I say if you find politics boring now, you’d have been bored at every moment in history. This is the scariest time of my life that I’ve ever known. I’ve never felt so simultaneously ashamed and terrified of my country and I think it’s just a very powerful time. In 40 years there aren’t going to be exam questions on Love Island or Nicki Minaj or Cardi B; it’s going to be an exam question about this, about what you see on the news about this decision that Britain made or about Trump. I feel if a comedian completely ignores Brexit or Trump and they do have feelings about it then it is a dereliction of duty.

So, we’re talking about this seismic shift in the country’s mind-set in the past few years. Have you noticed any sort of change in audiences up and down the country?
I find, because I’ve done areas that are very Brexity and make awful jokes about Brexiters, that loads of people who voted for Brexit can still laugh at it because if you couch it in a way that’s like “Look, I know that I’m a Remainer bigot and I know I don’t have all the answers and I’m just venting my spleen about it” people can still enjoy it. I’ve very rarely had people get angry about me talking about politics. You can shout at each other over Twitter but when you’re talking to people face-to-face we do accept each other’s differences.

Hal Cruttenden plays The Leadmill on January 19. For tickets, head to leadmill.co.uk

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