Interview: Rarely Asked Questions – Tom Allen

Smart stories? Check. Smart suit? Check. Household name? Why not? The eloquent, erudite Tom Allen has been on the cusp of breaking through for most of the decade and it finally looks as if he is having his moment. He has recently appeared on Live at the Apollo, 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown and The Great British Bake Off Extra Slice. Find out more about him below and here.










1. What is the last thing you do before you go onstage (apart from check your flies and/or check your knickers aren't sticking out of your skirt and check for spinach between your teeth )?

I try and get into a headspace that means I'm totally relaxed and looking forward to the gig. Someone once said to me that nerves are just the flip side of excitement so I try and hold on to that. It took me a long time to try and master my nerves, I still have lapses, but it's often a case of changing my thought pattern to remember that the people in the audience want to have a good time. They don't want to kill me, as I once thought. It was a huge relief when I realised. 


2. What irritates you?

Selfishness: People who take up more than their half of arm rests - aren't they the worst? Why, I'd have specially built armrests with dividing lines on them. Thoughtlessness irritates me too - whether it's in bad design like new flats with hardly any windows - how do they expect people to live like that? With no view to look out at? Or hyperbole - it's everywhere online 'watch this restaurant DESTROY this TripAdvisor comment!' What? It's a restaurant responding to a complaint. I think people need to calm down. And people playing music on their phones on public transport that irritates me. I once told some teenagers to turn it off. They didn't like it but they did it. Then as I was getting off they called me an arsehole. But I'd had some peace and quiet so I didn't mind.

3. What is the most dangerous thing you have ever done?

I once got into the sea with a shark. I was in Adelaide and I was lying on the beach and the water looked so still and beautiful. I heard what I thought was a police siren in the distance. I got into the water up to my waist when a man came running onto the beach and shouted at me to get out. 'What are you doing?? Didn't you hear the shark alarm?! I can see him from back there - he must be 6 foot long!' That's the thing about Australians, they love rules. 


4. What is the most stupid thing you have ever done?

I try not to have regrets. I wouldn't have anything to talk about onstage otherwise. However I sometimes think it was stupid of me to not go to university. I left school when I was 18. I loved learning but I just felt that by the end of my a levels I was bored out of my mind and didn't want to do anymore exams. I'm still curious. Maybe I'll go when I'm older. Like Educating Rita or something. But without Michael Caine. 

5. What has surprised you the most during your career in comedy?

How open and generous people are. Much more than we are led to believe. 


Interview with Tom Allen continues here.

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