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Alun Cochrane. Jokes. Life. And Jokes About Life

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

It’s a bold – or reckless – comedian who admits that his show is based on the fact he’s never going to please all of the people all of the time. Instead, Alun Cochrane is going to try to please some of the people some of the time, and hope that he covers enough ground to have amused everyone by the end.

His usual stock-in-trade is personal anecdotes and broader observational material told in a whimsical, almost lackadaisically low-key way. But that wasn’t enough for one heckler in Sheffield who taunted him with the predictable ‘Go on, tell us a joke’, which left Cochrane unexpectedly stumped: he hadn’t really got any ‘joke jokes’ – the sort you could tell in the pub – so set out to write some.

Existing fans shouldn’t worry he’s turned into some sort of Tim Vine gag machine – and judging by the variable quality of the one-liners he shares tonight, that’s a blessing. Instead, he’s decided to mix up his set a bit – the longer stories are still there, but punctuated by him rummaging in his lucky dip of shorter gags, and inviting us to judge them a hit or miss. Anyone who’s witnessed a comedy club joke competition will know the format exactly, and Cochrane has fun with the audience response, good or bad.

They are a mixed bag all right, but essentially nothing more than temporary diversions from his usual shtick, as Cochrane argues that no crafted punchline can be funnier than real life. He has some funny yarns about his three-year-old boy discovering his body – and being a babe magnet when they are out in the park together – about the rules of attraction or about the gap between mankind’s technological ambition and the shabby way it eventually gets implemented, which he brilliantly illustrates with the Heath Robinsonish way satnavs are stuck to car windscreens.

He also goes in to more sensitive areas, accepting that life isn’t all shits and giggles but always careful to emphasise that from darker moments, humour can still arise. So he talks about grieving for his Alzheimer’s-suffering gran, of serious health scares hitting his loved ones, and of how to have sex when your partner is nursing an injury. Some of this sounds bleak, but Cochrane handles it all with a deft, light touch. Such sections aren’t huge guffaw-generators, but they do add texture and maturity to a classy stand-up show.

And he can always puncture any awkwardness this material raises with some dubious wordplay from his ever-expanding tub of gags. Hit or miss? Hit, I’d say.

Review date: 21 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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