Reviewer: Dave Cunningham
Alun Cochrane is more of an obsessive than an observational comedian. He goes through his material in fine detail squeezing out the last drop of humour and examining every possible variation. The objective, Cochrane explains, is to make the topics so mundane as to demonstrate that he really is boring. The audience, Cochrane claims, will struggle to quote jokes from the show to their friends.
Take, for example, the title of the tour: A Show With A Man In It. Cochrane is delighted that it was suggested by his seven-year-old son inferring that it demonstrates the boy regards his father as a genuine masculine role model. It is also accurate, better than the one offered by his wife and available in time to be printed in the programme. By the time the routine has reached the conclusion it has been so thoroughly chewed over you’ve forgotten how it started.
Contrary to Cochrane’s claims, the show features jokes with splendid punchlines – the one about the recent film Suffragette is a cracker. In the main, however, it is simply Cochrane thinking aloud. Cochrane’s relationship with his audience, described as looking like the sort of men who get lost in big department stores, is cheekily affectionate. The show will be without intermission as they are of an age to appreciate not having to climb back up the stairs.
Cochrane flatters himself by imagining that the occasional muted response from the audience is because the material is too dark. He longs for a slave, not due to sexual desire but simply to do chores. He speculates whether Colonel Gaddafi, rumoured to have kept body parts of his executed victims in a fridge freezer, ever endorsed the product online. Actually, Cochrane’s surreal approach nudges the material towards the obscure so that it becomes “funny peculiar” rather than “funny ha ha”.
The obsessive attention to detail is as likely to generate bemusement as amusement. A routine on the life cycle of a tee-shirt as it proceeds from being a garment worn on a night out to being useful for chores and gym before ending up as a nightshirt goes on so long that it is hard to maintain full attention. The closest the show comes to actual controversy is the suggestion that, far from being a hero, astronaut Tim Peake is a poor father abandoning his family just before Christmas and making no arrangements for them to visit him while he is away.
Inevitably, bearing in mind the rambling nature of the delivery, the show over-runs significantly. This leads to the glorious sequence of Cochrane sharing the pain of a punter who has to choose between missing a chunk of the show or rushing off as his free car parking is due to expire. It is typical of a very human and warm, if occasionally puzzling, show.
Runs until10January 2016 | Image: Contributed