Cambridge/Ipswich: Victorious return to stand-up for Alan Davies

Little Victories, the latest tour from comedian Alan Davies, coming to Cambridge and Ipswich. Photo:

Little Victories, the latest tour from comedian Alan Davies, coming to Cambridge and Ipswich. Photo: Tony Briggs - Credit: Archant

Jonathan Creek star Alan Davies has a confession, he can’t do any magic tricks.

“I tried it when I was a kid and I had no aptitude for it at all,” laughs the comedian, who previewed new show Little Victories in front of a sold-out Cramphorn Theatre audience last night.

“When I first got the part I read a few books, but I never practiced magic. I could never do any tricks or sleight of hand or anything, it’s the sort of stuff that takes hundreds of hours of dedication that I just don’t have.”

Is it true the title of the new show comes from him trying to get his dad to eat blackcurrant jam?

“I don’t want to give away the routine... he has a limited palate, he also thinks Indian food would make him ill. It would drive us mad as children – it’s almost pathological,” laughs QI’s Davies.

“He’s just decided he doesn’t like certain things. We had plenty of jam at home – strawberry, raspberry, apricot – it was jam a-go-go, but he would refuse to eat jam made of blackcurrant, the finest of all the currants. So we set him a trap... It’s a classic little victory.”

As a new show develops, he says, you’re always looking for a title, a line from one of the routines that sums it up. As a storyteller rather than a gag writer, his stuff tends to be quite autobiographical too.

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While working on his previous show - the critically acclaimed Life Is Pain, his first live tour in over a decade - his children were babies.

“Now it’s much more about the harsh reality of child rearing, how you never have sex with your wife anymore, never get to go out and you’d secretly like to bury them in the garden.

“As a parent (his son is almost three and his daughter just turned four) life’s full of little victories over the children - trying to get them to do what you want them to do like getting in the car seat or when they’re in stopping them kicking you in the back.

“As a kid you’re trying to get your parents to let you do stuff, so this show is about trying to get ahead - whether when I was a kid or now I’ve got kids of my own.”

Davies, who took a 10-year break from stand-up, was nervous when returning to it in 2011.

“It was difficult, especially at the beginning when I was trying to develop material and I was thinking ‘oh, I’m never going to think of anything funny’. Gradually it came together and once I got the show together I really started to enjoy it.”

Life Is Pain went down so well in Australia, New Zealand and the UK it ended up running for almost 18 months.

“It was really good fun and I got good houses... I wasn’t sure when I came back to stand-up but it’s the thing I do best, it’s my trade, what I spent several years doing before I got into radio or television,” says the multi-award winning stand-up, who started his stand-up career in 1988.

Recognisable as the star of Creek and various other things during the late 1990s made it difficult for Davies to pop into the comedy clubs like he used to and he’d also lost the love of touring - although technology these days has made it easier - so he stopped.

He’s equally honest about what spurred his return.

“I had a few disappointments, my BBC2 sitcom Whites was cancelled in 2010 after one series, which is a huge disappointment. I still don’t really understand what happened there. I really thought it was worth another series, there were scripts being developed and the cast got on really well,” says Davies, who has acted in Bob and Rose, The Brief and Morris Panych’s Auntie and Me to name a few of his many TV and stage credits.

“I also spent six months writing a book (My Favourite People 1978-1988, adapted into a three-part documentary for Channel 4 called Teenage Revolution which was also the title for the paperback) and no one bought it so I thought I’m not doing that again,” he laughs.

“If I’m going to spend six months writing I might as well spend six months writing material and do stand-up - then no-one can cancel you after one series and you’ve got control over it.”

Any message for the fans coming to see Little Victories at Cambridge Corn Exchange on April 5 and the Ipswich Regent on November 7?

“Not really... face the front,” he jokes. “The Regent is a fantastic theatre and the Corn Exchange is great as well so pack ‘em out, come on down.”

The new series of Jonathan Creek started on BBC1 last Friday.

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