Comedian Alun Cochrane‘s mettle was well and truly tested at Norwich Arts Centre last month.
Having become a regular fixture of the programme, every year his fans crawl out of the woodwork holding a glass of sloe gin, and wait for Alun’s charismatic frowning at society to begin.
That said, his experience of Norwich seemed to begin and end with the knowledge that the Canary “Anthony Pingleton used to play for Huddersfield”, more fact than joke but his twinkling eyes can get laughter out of a stone.
His advice to the “work hard play hard” crowd is to “work less hard and play really gently”, and his laughs are indeed gentle but consistent. While he manages to slip in the few controversial quips which should have audience members squirming in their seats, that northern twang lets him get away with comments that even Frankie Boyle would never risk.
The self-titled “jester” underwent technical difficulties when his mic began to cut out on the punch line of each joke, three successive microphones were plugged in, each with less success, but Cochrane’s wit bristled and came out in force when placed under pressure.
The only mic working that evening was Mike Newall’s, the support act, who was, if it’s possible, even more laid back than Cochrane. These comics guided the audience through the risks of cycling proficiency, scale models of Alan Titchmarsh, and Darthvader on a lilo, and one could not ask for two friendlier escorts.
Cochrane’s improv is fierce, fast paced, and risky. His set channels the warm humour and mild mannered horror at modern life of a regular at a pub.
Overall, it was an evening of incisive observations that brought a knowing chuckle over your pint glass rather than side-splitting guffaws. So if you get a chance to see Cochrane, do, but maybe have a tinker with the sound desk on the sly.