Alun Cochrane Is A Daydreamer (At Night) at the Brighton Comedy Festival

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

Alun Cochrane is proud to be a man of very modest ambitions, happy to waste hours pondering nothing more than the efficiency of the abbreviation ‘spag bol’ or thinking of a woman with a squishy face. He has no time for high-flying go-getters, but he does have a favourite hob on his cooker.

If all this sounds too affected, don’t be deterred. Cochrane backs up his whimsy with astute observational comedy, pointed opinion (‘ordinary people are pricks…’) and a dash of the surreal – all delivered with engaging affability and charming wit.

Some of his anecdotes don’t culminate in punchlines, but that’s life – and traveling is, after all, the best part of the trip. Plus, he generously scatters nicely-crafted turns of phrase and imaginative images throughout his fluid set, so you’re never far from a chuckle.

At 34, he’s recently become a husband and a father, and where parenthood can be a trap for some observational comics, whose newfound obsession can alienate them from the childless members of the audience, Cochrane handles the topic with characteristic aplomb, and doesn’t let it dominate the show. His approach might be described as self-deprecating, but Cochrane’s more than happy to bumble along in life.

In his comedy, that apparently underperforming manner provides a handy disguise to mask how well-written his show actually is. Behind the slightly dour outlook, an active mind is clearly at work – even if the focus of this cerebral activity is hardly, well, cerebral. But it does take a certain sort of intelligence to craft a five-minute routine about buying crisps in a pub that’s as funny as it is accurate, revealing hitherto unobserved common behaviour.

He’s got so many ideas, in fact, he struggles to contain them in the hour-long Brighton festival slot. Even overrunning by 15 minutes, he seems frustrated at the bits he never got to do. Coming in the middle of a national tour, he’s clearly used to more latitude than this – and the audience could surely listen to him for longer, too, as the 75 minutes just zip by.

Because of its lack of big themes, impressive climax or quotable one-liners, the show can seem slight in retrospect. But he’s warm, funny company who keeps you laughing every moment he’s on stage. That seems a good enough ambition to me.

Review date: 16 Oct 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Brighton Dome

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