Caro Meets Comedy Interview

Alfie Brown: Soul Not For Sale

By | Published on Friday 18 January 2013

Alfie Brown

Alfie Brown makes his way to the Soho Theatre this month with latest show ‘Soul For Sale’, which premiered at the Edinburgh Festival back in August.

Given all the great reviews he’s been garnering this last year, we weren’t going to pass up the chance to throw a few questions at him ahead of his upcoming London appearances.

CM: So, the show is about your soul being for sale, is it? Can you tell us a bit more?
AB: I think the show is actually about my soul not being for sale; I think it’s a show complaining about a lack of a depth of thought in every avenue of culture. The culture industries’ output primarily consists of shallow crap, because people find shallow crap easy to understand, and as a result, enjoy. However, just as candy floss will rot your teeth, Lady Gaga, Made In Chelsea or Damien Hirst will rot your brain.

CM: You performed this show 2012 Edinburgh Festival, and got some great reviews. Has it changed much since then?
AB: My computer recently died and I lost every bit of comedy I ever wrote including my latest show. Luckily I managed to recover it, and I read it for the first time in months the other day. It will be tweaked here and there; there are elements of it that over the month in Edinburgh I grew to despise.

CM: Some of your reviews suggest that you raise some fairly controversial topics. Is this a major theme of your stand up?
AB: There are lots of offensive words in my comedy but no offensive ideas. By that I mean that if I mention “paedophile, period, nigger, shit criminal, AIDS horse, Banquet Of Cum”, then people are likely to take immediate offence, but I’m interested in the sociological or philosophical point that is to be made behind these words and terms (only for the first three, I suppose). People need to look beyond the language and not run away from it.

CM: How did you first get into comedy?
AB: I was working at Topshop having left school at 17 following my U in Media Studies (an inhumanly moronic low). Making people laugh was the only thing I could do.

CM: Who influences your comedy?
AB: Christopher Hitchens, Nick Cave and John Fante. I prefer not to mention other comedians otherwise people start to be able to identify the carrots in your sick. If pressed I would offer George Carlin, Stewart Lee, Bill Hicks and Alexei Sayle.

CM: It’s not an easy profession to go into. What has made you stick at it?
AB: I believe in what I’m doing and I don’t see too many others doing it. It was painful in Edinburgh 2011, doing my first show, performing to a grand total of 0 people and seeing thousands of pounds bleed out of me into the soil and bear me no flowers. Thankfully it’s become easier with time, hopefully because I’ve gotten better.

CM: Career wise, where do you see yourself going from here?
AB: I don’t think too far ahead… I would like to become more established and better as a club comic without having to alter my act by coming on stage and saying “I know what you’re thinking, I look like the spit roasted, bastard son of (insert celebrity)”, or any other piece of bullshit, placating idiocy. It seems to me that the first thing a lot of comedians do is put themselves down so as to ingratiate them with an audience and make the gig easier. There has to be a cleverer and more interesting way of doing it. I don’t know what it is yet, but I will.

CM: Will this show continue to tour after London? Will you be taking a new one to Edinburgh in the summer?
AB: I will be touring Soul For Sale in January and then a few more times later in the year. All details are on my website should that be of interest to you. I will be returning to Edinburgh this year with a new show, I’m sorry, it’s too late to make this answer any more interesting than this!

CM: We’ve just been reading Janey Godley’s Comment Is Free article about TV panel shows, in the wake of this media outcry about the jokes made on the Big Fat Quiz of the year in December. What’s your take on the furore?
AB: Sadly I didn’t see The Big Fat Quiz of the year although I very much enjoyed the article in question and indeed most articles on the subject. It was very amusing to see Janey Godley accuse Jack Whitehall of being “testosterone overloaded”… I’m not sure that’s true myself; he may have testosterone aspirations but I think there it meets its limit. To make it clear I’m not denigrating comedic ability, just mentioning that he is fay.

Also, I rather object to ‘testosterone-overload’ being employed as a derogatory term. I doubt that, had Jack Whitehall had sat there crying and being emotionally volatile, Godley would have cited his performance as “oestrogen overloaded”. Anyway, I believe that it’s not Jack’s fault, and it’s not James Corden’s fault (both of them talented in their way), it’s the programmers’ fault; if you make abysmal programs you’ll get abysmal jokes. When these cowards and philistines choose to make a programme of quality, the quality of jokes will improve and those who don’t have the capacity to perform on a good show will very quickly be found out. James or Jack; who’s your money on?

Alfie Brown’s Soul For Sale is on at the Soho Theatre from the 24-26 Jan.

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