Interview: Rarely Asked Questions – Hal Cruttenden

Hal Cruttenden is a busy bee. This summer he is off to Edinburgh with his new show Chubster and then he takes it on the road for his biggest tour yet. And not only that he is dusting off the old acting chops too in Edinburgh, appearing in a new satirical play called Brexit alongside Mike McShane, Jo Caulfield and Pippa Evans. But it's as a powerhouse stand-up that Cruttenden has made his name. Nobody does repressed, neurotic middle class rage as well as this.
 
Hal Cruttenden's new stand up show Chubster will be at the Pleasance Courtyard One at 9pm daily for the month of August. For tickets go to www.edfringe.com. He then tours the UK for the rest of 2018 into 2019. For info go to www.halcruttenden.com 
 
 
 
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 check my pockets - for some reason it’s essential that they’re empty. I usually scrunch my shoulders up and down to try to relax them (it never works, I always look like I have no neck onstage), and I try to remember how absurd it is that I get paid to do this. I often walk onstage giggling at that thought.
 
2. What irritates you?
 
Brexit and Trump are of course top of many people’s lists but my own personal irritation at the moment is England football fans thinking we can win the World Cup (delete this if we’ve won the world cup by time of publication).
 
3. What is the most dangerous thing you have ever done?
 
I was doing army gigs in the Falkland Islands in 2007 and the helicopter I was in had to make an emergency landing because of engine trouble. It was all fine. The crew (and the other comics were very cool) but I was saying goodbye to my family in my head and wondering which of us acts would get the most prominent obituaries on comedy websites.
 
In terms of something I’ve chosen, stand up continues to be the bravest choice of my life. I used to be a very neurotic actor at drama school so doing stand up was a new level of fear. Those early gigs in the 90s, when I risked death every time I went onstage, are still my proudest moments. I used to drive home from gigs, giving myself hugs and muttering ‘Well done mate’. I was so alone and really rather sad.
 
4. What is the most stupid thing you have ever done?
 
I married my wife after we’d only known each other 5 and half months and she was already pregnant with our first child. We were telling each other we loved each other after two weeks. We’ve been together 18 years and she is the love of my life, but I still think that, looking back, we were a bit impetuous. It’s very hard to tell this story to the kids while telling them not to be reckless in their own lives.

 

My wife has just told me that this answer is actually the most stupid thing I’ve ever done.
 
5. What has surprised you the most during your career in comedy?
I thought the nerves would lessen as I got older. They never do. You just find ways to accept them and work with them. I actually thought that one day I’d head off to a TV panel show or a corporate gig as relaxed as any other person heading off to a normal day of work in an office. I don’t.
 
Interview continues here.
 

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