Interview: Rarely Asked Questions – Chris Turner: Page 2 of 2

6. What do your parents/children (delete as applicable) think of your job?


My dad is thrilled that his son is a comedian, and has always been incredibly supportive from the beginning, from driving me to shows, to sharing clips and gig dates on the motorsports forum he frequents. My mum has my Edinburgh show posters up in an Airbnb that she rents out, which is so nice as well. I think she took more convincing, as I’d always said I was going to be a lawyer. They both made a lot of sacrifices for my education, but I think my secondary school and university were the breeding grounds for my jokes, and ambition to perform and entertain in some way. Mum was won round when I started gigging with a few comedians that she recognised from TV - I was performing with Sarah Millican one night, took mum along, and they had a lovely chat (so thanks, Sarah!).


7. What’s the worst thing about being a comedian?


At the moment, I’m having to spend a lot of time away from my girlfriend, which is utterly horrid. 

I also think that minor successes in the earliest stages of my career and the mass validation from strangers given to me as a teenager encouraged certain negative aspects of my personality (arrogance, dishonesty, competitiveness, tactlessness) that I’ve had to work hard against for the last few years. Probably would have been worse if I was a lawyer, though - it’s a fault of mine, not of comedy.


8. I think you are very good at what you do (that’s why I’m asking these questions). What do you think of you?


There are two very distinct parts of what I do onstage - when it comes to freestyling, the way I do it (I’ll take any suggestion, regardless of how obscure it is, and I try never to take the same suggestion more than once) I think I’m one of the best there is, but I’ve been doing it for over 15 years now, so I’d hope that was the case. 

With comedy, I’m way off being the stand-up that I want to be, but that’s fine. The move to LA is so I can get funnier. It’s such a long-game in terms of careers - I can only imagine how difficult it must be for prodigies to sustain brilliance over decades. Though I am definitely just saying that because I’m not the phenomenally funny trailblazer I thought I was before my first ever gig.


9. How much do you earn and how much would you like to earn?


I’ve been doing a lot of corporate gigs for the last three years, which are a great way to make money if your soul can stomach it and your act suits it. It’s enough to live comfortably in London, or precariously in Los Angeles, thanks to the exchange rate plummeting.

I’d like to make enough that money wasn’t a consideration - that there would always be enough for whatever I wanted to do, whether that’s taking an UberX rather than an UberPool, or spending half a year travelling round cathedrals. 


10. How important is luck in terms of career success – have you had lucky breaks?


I think most people talk about luck and hard work in combination, which is also true for me, but it would also be stupid to overlook the fact that I’m a straight, white man, so all of this is wrapped up in a huge bundle of privilege that’s essentially a skeleton key for all the various doors in life. 

It makes comedy so much easier - I walk out on stage and immediately fit the mould of ‘comedian’ that’s in many audience members’ heads. I’ve never been heckled for anything other than the quality of my jokes; I’ve never felt discriminated against by bookers or been subject to a ‘one per show’ quota; I’ve never been sexually harassed or assaulted by an employer, punter or colleague. There has never been a point where I’ve considered giving up or quitting, that didn’t revolve around the thought ‘I’m not funny enough’. 

Obviously hard work and luck are extremely important; but luck includes lucky accidents of birth. There’s no moment in my career that has benefitted me more than the moment I was born a white man. 


11. Alan Davies has said that comedians fall into two categories - golfers and self-harmers. The former just get on with life, the latter are tortured artists. Which are you – or do you think you fit into a third category?


Golfer. I’m not tortured. And I’m prone to wasting time on pointless, yet enjoyable pursuits when I could be doing something creative.


12. Who is your favourite person ever and why – not including family or friends or other comedians?


Elon Musk is a ludicrous person, in the very best sense. At the moment he’s digging tunnels under LA from his house to his work, because he’s sick of traffic. The organisation is called The Boring Company and he named the drilling machine ‘Godot’. With all the things he’s doing (Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink) it’s clear he’s either going to save mankind or become the ultimate Bond villain. 


13. Do you keep your drawers tidy and if not why not? (please think long and hard about this question, it's to settle an argument with my girlfriend. The future of our relationship could depend on your response).


I initially wrote a long response detailing how I organise my sock drawer. Then my girlfriend told me that I would never be famous enough for anyone to care - I disagree with her, so thanks for starting a new argument.


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


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