In 2012, Alan Davies returned to the stand-up arena with a huge national tour of the show, “Life Is Pain”. After a hiatus of 12 years he was understandably nervous.
But it turned out he needn’t have worried. Alan’s return to stand-up was a triumph. Looking back on that moment now, Alan smiles that, “Going back on stage really felt like coming home.”
Alan remains hilarious. He is back on the road with an entirely new show entitled Little Victories. He appears at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre on April 24 with dates booked into the autumn.
It can be summed up by all those adjectives beginning with C: coruscating, compelling and comic.
As a stand-up, Alan is totally at ease on stage; he generates tremendous warmth that draws audiences in.
The tour two years ago got Alan’s comedic juices flowing again.
The comedian, who is happily married with two small children, says: “From the outset, any gig is all about establishing a rapport with the audience.
“It has to go beyond your material –otherwise, you’re just a monologist. You go on stage empty-handed (like a karate expert!) and have to find the audience.
“So you might start by talking to them about their town and towns nearby. Then get everyone to agree on what is the most rubbish village in the area.
“That’s one way of getting people to offer things up. It’s really important to have that interaction.
“Although it often appears as if you’re not doing anything, the opening 10 minutes is a vital part of the show. If you get that right, it sets the evening up perfectly.”
Alan is very grateful for the immense affection in which his loyal audience holds him.
“They’ve made an effort to come out, they’ve booked the babysitter. It’s important never to forget that they have come specifically to see you.
“Once you get that in your head, you have a huge sense of gratitude towards the audience. That transmits to them.
“I’m saying to them: ‘You’ve done your bit by buying tickets, and you’re free to leave at any time. But now I’ll do my bit by trying to entertain you’.
“Because they’ve especially come to see you, you get this terrific feeling of warmth from them. I love that.”
The genuine bond between Alan and his audience frequently spills over into good-natured mickey taking. He laughs.
“Fans often come up to me and say: ‘I saw you performing in Bournemouth in 1999. Have you met my grandchild?’
“I’ve started asking audience members when they were born, but that’s not always a good idea. I’m 47 years old now, so when they say, ‘1998’, I feign physical pain.
“But I have to admit I’m not always feigning – sometimes it causes actual physical pain!”
The title of the show comes from a routine about me trying to get my dad to eat blackcurrant jam. He has a limited palate.
“He also thinks that Indian food would make him ill. It would drive us mad as children – it’s almost pathological.
“He has just decided that he doesn’t like certain things. We had plenty of jam at home – strawberry, raspberry, apricot – it was jam a-go-go. But he would refuse to eat jam made of blackcurrant, the finest of all the currants.
“So we set him a trap … That’s one of the routines in the show. It’s a classic Little Victory.”
Another of the major themes of the show is how to be a good parent.
Alan, who has also enjoyed a highly successful acting career with Jonathan Creek adds: “It’s on me to keep my children happy.
“They’re full of fun and laughter and have really nice days. I can’t bear to think of them being anxious.”
“These days children are worshipped. Look at those parents who send pictures of their children as Christmas cards.
“We were house-hunting recently, and we saw a house that must have contained 200 framed photos of the owners’ children. Really? Those frames cost a bit, too!”
The comic, who has been a regular panellist for the past 11 years on BBC2’s panel show, QI, observes that, “You must never sit on your laurels.
“I remember a TV drama exec once coming on set and saying: ‘I’ve just seen the rushes and I smell BAFTAs’.
“I thought: ‘No, what you’ve smelt is the dog poo you’ve just trodden in. You don’t know what you’re talking about’.
“Good comedians never come off the stage punching the air and shouting, ‘I rule, baby!’ They say, ‘That was OK’.
“Recently I met the magician David Copperfield who does 600 shows a year. He told me, ‘I’m never satisfied with my performance. I always think I could have done it better.’ ”
“Let’s see where I am in 20 years’ time, but I know I’ve still got a long way to go.”
For more info, tickets and venues, on the 2014 tour go to www.mickperrin.com