Alan Davies: Life is Pain
Ann Brown, Correspondent
As Grassington Festival prepares to welcome comedian Alan Davies to its main stage on Thursday evening, I caught up with him in London prior to his journey north.
Well, I say comedian, but that's just one string to the bow of this talented and popular entertainer. Alan Davies is also an actor, a writer, radio host, talent show judge and a permanent panellist on one of television's longest running shows, QI. Is this the reason then, that it has been 10 years since Davies last toured a stand-up show? Has there simply been too may demands on his time? Well, it's certainly a factor but not the whole reason. Alan told me that he'd become weary of the hard slog of touring from town to town for weeks, sometimes months on end. Having to be woken up in the dressing room to be told you're about to go on is not fun! Although planned, the break from stand-up was never intended to be 10 years long so I asked him how he was tempted back to life on the road for his forthcoming 'Life is Pain' tour which is previewing at Grassington Festival prior to opening at the Edinburgh Fringe on 9th August.
Well known in Australia due to the popularity of Jonathan Creek and QI, Alan had been 'nagged' for some time to take a stand-up show to the country. The raw material was certainly there, all stored safely to Smartphone and just needed tweaking and organising into the eagerly anticipated 'Life is Pain' which previews on Thursday 28th June in the Festival Marquee. As Davies was due to be in Australia late last year for the live stage version of QI it was the perfect opportunity to end the good natured 'nagging' and go back to his comedy roots. The show was a storming, sell-out success; Alan told me that he loved every minute of it and is very excited about taking the material out on a huge UK tour which includes dates in Manchester, Halifax and Sheffield.
There's something quite terrifying about the thought of standing alone on stage and being expected to make an audience laugh. Are the nerves still the same, I wondered. Is it still as frightening now as it was back in 1988 when the then 22 year old Alan Davies made his debut at the Whitstable Labour Club? Alan agreed that it was certainly just as nerve wracking but even so, stand-up is still his favourite medium. He related the time that American comedienne, Rosanne Barr told an interviewer that stand-up was her favourite thing to do, as once she was out on that stage no-one could stop her saying anything she wanted to say or do anything she wanted to do. I guess there's a certain freedom of expression that comes from performing live comedy that can sometimes be curtailed in the world of recorded TV and radio.
So why Grassington Festival? Why has Alan Davies chosen this particular event to preview his all new material for the first time in front of a UK audience? 'Because they asked me', came the simple reply. Followed by the explanation that he'd researched the festival details on the net and was impressed enough by what he saw to make the decision that Grassington was a great place to start.
The show starts at 8pm and, at the time of writing there were still a few tickets available. Alan Davies is a man with a quick wit and a sharp mind, his show is guaranteed to offer some insightful yet surreal observations on life that we can all identify with. I for one am greatly looking forward to hearing the uncut, uncensored Alan Davies.
A friendly, articulate and, as you would expect, humorous man, Alan Davies was a delight to talk to and we finished our chat with a discussion about one of his other great loves, football. I asked Alan who he was supporting in Euro 2012 now that England have been eliminated and there was no hesitation as he replied, 'Portugal, because I was there in 2004, I loved the country, all the other teams left in it have won it before and I like to watch Ronaldo'. Good enough reasons all!
Alan Davies: Life is Pain, 28th June 2012, 9:10 AM