Interview by James Rampton
Alan Carr cannot contain his excitement. As he prepares to hit the road this autumn with “Regional Trinket,” his eagerly anticipated new stand-up tour, the infectiously funny comedian is delighted about the prospect of seeing us again. “Theatres spend all their money on the punters, which means that some of the dressing rooms are really grotty,” the comic tells me in the run-up to the tour.
“But when I walk into a dressing room now, I’ve never been so happy to see a badly stuffed sofa, a wobbly ironing board, a TV that never works and a kettle that doesn’t function. I say to myself, ‘oh, Alan, I’m home!””
Having had to postpone the tour last year because of the pandemic, Alan is beyond pleased to be returning to the live arena. “I’m so excited about it! I can’t wait to get out there again. Don’t get me wrong, when I’m waiting in the wings to go on stage, I’m thinking, ‘oh my God, why am I doing this? Can I get my job back at Tesco?’”
However, "as soon as I go on, the buzz is amazing. You ask any comedian – when a brand-new joke you have worked on gets a big cheer or a laugh, it’s a wonderful feeling. During lockdown, I’ve just realised how much I love stand-up and the interaction with the audience.
He adds, “oh my God, I realise now that I’m going be one of those Ken Dodd or Joan Rivers kind of performers still doing shows at the age of 98, even if no one turns up!”
With his new show, “Regional Trinket,” Alan will be playing to an audience that for the last 18 months has been yearning for the thrill of live performance.
Alan, who is just as delightful and hilarious a presence in an interview as he is in a theatre, says, “during the warm-ups for this tour, I got the impression that everyone was just so excited to be out of the house! People were howling with laughter – I didn’t know whether the jokes were that good or they were just happy to be out!
“There is a pent-up desire for the shared experience of a live show. You can feel it in the air. I did a run of shows in Soho and Soho audiences can be quite hard to please, they’re people who have seen and done everything.
But, “they loved it. I’ve never had a reaction like that in Soho. I thought, ‘if I can get you lot to crack a smile, it must be a good show!’”
The Soho punters were not wrong. “Regional Trinket” is a splendidly entertaining show, full of Alan’s trademark contagious sense of humour. He radiates a warmth on stage that simply wins you over. Resistance is futile.
It’s not just me who thinks so. Reviewers adore Alan’s brilliant stand-up, too. The Evening Standard describes him as, “an absolute natural on stage… a born storyteller, sheer entertainment.”
Meanwhile, the Sunday Telegraph calls him, “belly-achingly funny.” For its part, The Independent says Alan is, “a comedian who owns the space he is working in so much, he could put a flag up”.
Live comedy such as Alan’s is playing a particularly important role at the moment, providing audiences with a very welcome sense of escapism from the grim times we have all been experiencing.
The 45-year-old comedian, who fronted 16 series of his enormously popular, BAFTA-winning C4 chat show, Alan Carr: Chatty Man, says, “the other day I was speaking to a Rob Rinder, who is very intellectual – I only understand every third word he says!
“He told me that now it is a lot like the aftermath of the Spanish Flu Epidemic. In the Roaring 20s, there was a sudden creative burst of dance, music, jazz and theatre. Wouldn’t it be amazing if after the lockdown and the awful, awful year we’ve had, there was a real renaissance for everyone – starting with my show! ‘Alan sparks the Roaring 2020s – always a pioneer!’”
On the tour, which opens in September, Alan is also very eager to reconnect with his legions of passionate fans right across the country. “They’re all lovely. I love a good chat with them, although I have had a few weird experiences. At the stage door once in Dundee, I was doing selfies, when suddenly I could feel something tugging at my leg. One of my fans was trying to undo my shoe and steal it!
“I mentioned that on Lorraine because she’s from Dundee, and she went a bit red. They’ve got a new V & A Museum in Dundee. I was thinking, ‘I wonder if this fan is going to steal my shoe and put it in the V & A!’ I don’t seem to get the respect that some other comedians do!”
Also a highly accomplished TV performer who has won two British Comedy Awards, two National Television Awards and a BAFTA TV Award, Alan goes on to explain the title of the new show. “’National Treasure’ must be the most overused phrase in the language.
"You hear that said about some people and think, ‘don’t make me laugh!’ I don’t see myself like that, so I thought it would be funny to call myself ’Regional Trinket’. Why go high when you can go low?”
So what subjects will Alan be tackling in “Regional Trinket”? He will of course be discussing Covid. “As a stand-up, you have to mention it, don’t you? There’s something wrong with you if you just carry on doing your old material and don’t mention it.”
Alan is quick to point out, though, that, “I’m not going to mock the disease. It’s going to be all about lockdown and people hoarding toilet rolls!”
He will also be talking about his own lockdown, during which, “I regressed to a 13-year-old. I did all the things I used to enjoy as a 13-year-old – birdwatching, jigsaw puzzles, Cluedo. It was a surprise that I didn’t start playing Knock Down Ginger!”
Before we part, Alan emphasises what he hopes audiences will take away from the show. “My stuff is observational. I’m not going to bring down any government. People don’t come to see me for that anyway. I’m not one of those comedians who wants to shock. I want everyone to have a fun time. They’ve all been working hard all week, so let’s go out and have some fun.
“I want people to leave with a smile on their faces, and I want to spread a lot of joy. After the last 18 months, I know audiences need a laugh. I just hope at the end they are heading for their cars and not the refund booth!”
Alan Carr will be bringing Regional Trinket to Bournemouth Thu 19 - Sun 22 May 2022.