Interview: Rarely Asked Questions – Chris Turner

We haven't seen much of Chris Turner on the London stand up circuit recently and you can read more about the reason why below. He moved from London to Los Angeles a while back in the pre-Trump glory days, but before he went he was building up a fair head of steam and a bit of a buzz for his distinctive mix of gags, stories and freestyle improvised raps. You can see what you have been missing in his new show, which, no doubt, should boast an interesting – and maybe even rhyming – perspective on recent events on both sides of the Atlantic.

Chris Turner: What a Time to Be Alive is at the Pleasance Courtyard from August 2 - 27. Tickets and info here.

He is also doing a sketch show with Alice Winn called Cat FM at Just The Tonic at the Caves from Aug 3 - 26. Tickets 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)?

 

It totally depends how excited I feel about the performance. If I’m eager to do the show, then I remind myself to have fun, be friendly, and soak up some of the enjoyment. If I’m floating somewhere around standard, I’ll rhyme a few nearby things to make sure my brain’s tuned-in and think of my first three jokes. If it feels like work, or I’m ill/tired/stressed, I’ll crack a smile, jump up and down and tell myself that I’m a very lucky boy.

 

2. What irritates you?

 

When checkout operators comment on my food choices. It happened less in the UK, as we’re a taciturn bunch, but since moving to LA, where everyone working in my local store is a model or actor, there have been so many times where someone has told me to try frozen yoghurt instead of ice-cream; that green peppers have more antioxidants than red peppers; or asked if I’m having a party because I’m buying four frozen pizzas. I worked on the tills at a 24-hour Tesco for two years. I know how boring it can be, so I always take off my headphones in case they want to chat. Then they betray me.

 

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

 

I’m so conflict/risk-averse that anything dangerous I do is always a product of my own idiocy. Last year, I was staying in a luxury yurt (I don’t want to talk about it). I had the wood burning stove roaring away with a couple of lit tea lights on top of it for extra ambience. This extra ambience NEARLY COST ME MY LIFE, because the tea lights got so hot from the stove that the wax caught on fire and started licking at the top of the tent. I tried to blow it out, but this caused all the burning wax to spread over the top of the stove. I looked around madly for something to smother it with, chip-pan style, and in the end grabbed a metal trashcan, emptied it, used the lid to scrape the burning wax pots into the bin, and covered it in time. I then left the smouldering trashcan outside my yurt, like some beacon of ignorance.

 

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

 

During Tea Light Gate, I grabbed a bottle of water to pour on the flames before I remembered literally every fire safety talk ever.

 

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

 

How hard it can be to get organisers to trust you, despite the fact you do this job professionally. It’s mainly a problem with corporates, but the number of times I’ve been told that: they don’t think I need an introduction; I can perform when the audience are eating dessert; coffee and petit fours service won’t be distracting, etc… I try to offer tweaks and suggestions that will make the show better for everyone, but sometimes the pushback is unbelievable. I performed at a lunch with a sporting legend, and had to argue vociferously against an introduction that implied everyone was there to see me as much as this substantially more famous person. I can’t remember who told me to stand my ground on these matters, but it was incredible advice.

That, and how you feel after a great gig. After a really nice spot at Spank! in Edinburgh, where I finished by ripping off my shirt to reveal a tank top underneath and rapping a combative freestyle about a drunk heckler, I walked home under the assumption that I was the greatest rapper alive. To everyone else on Cowgate, I was a gangly white guy in a vest. 

Interview continues here.

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