Alun Cochrane: A Show with a Man in It

Okay, he doesn’t promise much - the title was his son’s butchering of the ‘one-man show’ term. Alun even missed the deadline for posters. His nonchalant energy is sustained, almost dipping into the genteel. Indeed, this hour is composed of, as the comic freely admits, unimportant words that “just disappear”. They aren’t - contrary to a feeling in the audience - to be taken at face value.

The show works better when Alun is less sinister and sticks to his normal friendly, thoughtful self

He got away with a great deal: we were warned of his boringness, and then accused of idiocy (this was justified to an extent). He appeared to patronise, explaining, for example, what a polo shirt was (again, perhaps necessary for this audience). A potentially annoying chord of ambivalence is struck when Cochrane declares he’s “anti-men and anti-women”.


It took a heckler chiming in with “I expected a segue” for Cochrane to come alive, landing a satisfying, if uninventive, punchline. Genuine ponderings on the wifey, gender roles, the silly Apple Genius bar and, concerningly, 16-year-old terrorists turned into a more focused treatment of modern productivity, the evaporation of youth and the corporate comedy circle.

The show works better when Alun is less sinister and sticks to his normal friendly, thoughtful self: he can wondrously discern the awful honesty of children through his own daughter’s observations. Gaddafi and Thatcher references are pleasing because they are rooted in bog-standard things (Amazon reviews and sleep).


I admire Cochrane’s reflective deconstruction of stand-up itself, and the middle-class musings which span Antiques Roadshow, dinner parties and even the Lancet. But more often than not, narratives fade rather than surge, and Cochrane ultimately compromised his natural wit, slowing down with self-deprecation in an attempt to win back a lacklustre audience. You know, if you keep telling us you’re boring, you might convince us that A Show With a Man in It actually is as sterile as the ‘after-dinner speaking’ scene you've recently discovered.

Reviews by Oliver Newson

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

A man who has jokes. Jokes about manliness, womanliness, hobbies, ageing, fighting, perfume, beards, snoods, feminism, fundamentalism, and hopefully some profound understanding about life itself. 'Brilliant no-frills stand-up comedy’ (List). Alun has been doing solo stand-up shows at the festival since 2004. He is heard on Radio 4 in Alun Cochrane's Fun House, Just a Minute and has performed his observational autobiographical comedy on various stand-up and panel shows on TV. He is affectionately known as the Cockerel on Absolute Radio's Frank Skinner Show and podcast.