Classic Interview: Alan Davies: Page 3 of 3

alan davies

BD: You definitely seem mellower compared to previous times I've met you...

AD: Maybe because I'm happy, it's a combination of things, I'm not worried so much about getting there or there."

BD: Who made you go to therapy?

AD: Jo Brand, since then I've made a few people go. There are two types of comedians, self harmers and golfers. the second lot are out on the golf course they love being famous, playing golf, having rolls royce, house in Barbados, no guilt. For some there was a sense that you had to pay your dues, Morecambe and Wise didn't get on TV until they were my age. Then there is Tony Hancock – My life is so shit I've got to fire my writers, why not just play golf, enjoy it?

My first agent, Bob Voice, had Hale and Pace, Richard Digance on his books, he was from a different generation, very mainstream. I'd be sitting in his office and I'd hear the secretary say 'Ronnie Corbett on line 3' in reception, he could never understand why I was saying I don't want to do panto, I don't want to do corporate gigs, I don't want to do summer season in Blackpool. He said 'what do you want to do?' I said 'good work, good stuff' 'but what does that mean?' 'I don't know.'

I worked with Jerry Sadowitz at the Tunnel Club when I was starting out. He said 'You'll be on television in five minutes...children's fucking TV...' alan daviesMy ambition was a bit of an affliction to carry, to want to get on. I don't know why i was so ambitious I just was. I read an interview with Jessica Ennis, She was saying her siblings and friends were good athletes but for some reason she would train week in week out rather than them. She was driven but can't explain why. Eddie Izzard from the get go was driven to succeed, then there's Steve Bowditch who is so funny to be round, but didn't care. I  was so ambitious I got business cards with my phone number on, rather than scrabble round for bit of paper. I showed one to Jo Brand and she took it and tore it up. Now I bet she's got business cards too! It was the Punk thing. People like Kevin Eldon. Simon Munnery. doing this because you are an artist, because it is in you and it has got to come out. not for money.

BD: There seem to be as many troubled comedians now as ever.

AD: We are not a well adjusted bunch at all, all weirdoes. When I  was on the circuit there wasn't a lot of coke about but then it went through the circuit in the nineties. i was very pleased to miss that. Close shave. So many people you'd see storming it at the Store bubbling under and think they'd get the breakthrough then two years later you'd ask what happened to them and they'd be coked off their heads. There are pitfalls...

BD: So why do some make it and not others?

AD: My generation's stars, Lee Evans, Eddie Izzard, Jo Brand, Harry  Hill, Jack Dee, Bill Bailey, they just worked hard."

BD: A lot of them are happily married. You've now got that stability too.

AD: It's almost immediately stabilising. I'm definitely mellower or maybe just knackered? I did run around a lot onstage and on this tour I do a routine about the Aussies taunting the English about the sun, them never having seen that before, I had to run into the wings and I'd get there and be fucked completely out of breath after 20 feet.

BD: People say your mother's death drove you on?

AD: I used to be an attention seeker before she died. My mother made me what I am before she died. I remember her laugh and I wanted to make her laugh, people were buying me joke books, I always loved sitcoms. you'd all watch them together.

BD: What do you think about the recent controversial behaviour on panel shows?

AD: Frankie Boyle? He's a really good comedian, he has a turn of phrase and finds the nugget in there, he can fire a gag like a gunshot, but James Corden the other day (on Big Fat Quiz) it was just vulgarity which the editor should have cut out. In the middle of all that banter it was just an exchange, it's not for them to be the arbiter of taste. Jimmy Carr is so calculated he is like a hand grenade, so shocking and near the knuckle – 'I gave my girlfriend an orgasm, she spat it back in my face' – I  had to follow his saying that at the Royal Albert Hall. Stewart Francis said 'I'm glad i'm not following this guy.'  Frankie gets a lot of shit and maybe that prompts him to say what he says, but I'm very uncomfortable about jokes about kids with Downs Syndrome. I know a parent who has a Downs Syndrome child and I know how upsettng that would be for them to hear, it's so hard parenting a child with special needs. I'm a Labour person but it was really heartbreaking for David Cameron and his wife when they lost their son, it must have been unimaginable. There are no taboo areas, depends how talented you are. if you are really great you can go anywhere, but at the moment there are people who are not that great and all they are doing is causing offence.

BD: Who could get away with it?

AD: Richard Pryor, Billy Connolly at his best. I saw Billy at Hammersmith so the idea of being on there is exciting. Richard Pryor just told the truth. If he'd had a Downs Syndrome brother, if he'd been close to it he'd have talked about it as well as growing up in a brothel, drugs, drinking, being black. But I don't understand these attacks on comedians. Michael Moore's TV Nation used to go after tax evaders and criminals, now we are after comedians. There are bigger criminals in the world.

BD: Didn't Sachsgate create this climate where comedians have to be whiter than white?

AD: It was Jonathan Ross's contract that made it a big story, that was the responsibility of his agent Addison Cresswell. Now everyone is having their money slashed because of it.

BD: Do you think Addison Cresswell's agency/production company still has a lot of control in TV?

AD: The only time it affects me is when I can't get on a chat show, when you see Alan Carr interviewing Jack Dee or Ross interviewing Lee Evans, you think thank god for the Graham Norton show, I can't get on any of these!

BD: But Addison doesn't manage John Bishop or Jason Manford and they've done OK?

AD: He can't stop them from being funny, there is still this element of comedy being a meritocracy and Jason and John fill theatres. Nobody could have foreseen the fantastic popularity of stand-ups, its a very interesting time, but the next generation will come on and react against it like punk did and it might be even more interesting.

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