Alun Cochrane: Introducing An Introduction to Alun Cochrane's Imagination

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

This is a lovely show, free of tricks and gimmickry or cobbled together big ideas. The only clunking note is the title, and you're not sitting and watching that, so no problem. Even before the show starts you enter Alun Cochrane's world as the walk-in music is his sotto voce humming and tiddly-pomming of a number of songs and film themes. It's surprisingly relaxing and in retrospect feels like a bit of human dog-training ­ we're already used to the master's voice before he starts.

Alun's approach is deceptively simple. He's not over eager and bouncy (well, he's from Yorkshire), he chats off-mic for a few minutes, indicating he's not yet started, with a couple of spiky observations about the Fringe and the lust for merchandise ­ subtext being if you've got a good show, you don't need the CD, DVD, T-shirt etc.

Then we're off and his approach is to dissect the mundane and the incidentals of life. He cites three aims for the show. The first is not wanting to be bogged down in real life, but then cleverly plays at going for a microscopic examination of the relative slipperiness of banana versus orange skin on a varnished cork tile. There's a cartoonish, hyper-reality conjured here. He's not doing ordinary observational work, it's getting into the matter that's normally squashed underfoot. In other hands it would feel like bog-standard stoner comedy, but here it is weirdly, freshly vibrant.

Goal number two is to change the meaning of some standard analogies, where context is all and watching paint dry becomes an expression of value and thirdly he wants to introduce us his imagination, which he then disingenuously claims to lack. But then you couldn't create this linguistic tour de force without it. There's a great sense of progression and control in this show. He's constantly exposing the tools of comedy ­ preamble, compering, usable punchlines, catchphrases, mottos, building suspense and expectation and a good solid Butlin's training.

It's verbal sleight of hand, the equivalent of Penn and Teller showing you how a trick is done, but without making you any more capable of doing it yourself. It's a clever show without being smarmy or self-congratulatory. Very funny and stimulating, like acupuncture for the brain.

Julia Chamberlain


Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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