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Comedian Alasdair Beckett-King: ‘Cambridge forgave me for calling it Oxford of Cambridgeshire’

Flame-haired comedian and star of Mock the Week, Alasdair Beckett-King (ABK) is taking his sell-out show Nevermore on the road, and is coming to the Cambridge Junction this Friday (5 April).

Nevermore is, on paper, a diatribe against the North Sea. In reality, it is a silly, faintly mystical yet real comedy show with ridiculous jokes.

Alasdair Beckett-King. Picture: Edward Moore
Alasdair Beckett-King. Picture: Edward Moore

We asked him a few questions.

Tell us about your new tour of your latest stand-up show, Nevermore.

You know the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey, when the astronaut’s consciousness expands beyond human perception, and he sees through space and time into the inconceivable mysteries of an infinite universe – my show will be like that. Except I will mostly be doing jokes.

And telling a couple of funny stories from my childhood. And, most importantly, putting the North Sea in its place. Nevermore explores my life-long beef with the North Sea. We can all agree that the sea has had it too easy for too long and it’s time someone spoke up.

Nevermore was going to have a puppet of a raven in it (hence the name). The raven was provisionally called ‘Alan the Crowdwork Raven’ and the idea was that he would warm the audience up in the style of a 1970s club comic.

I did actually make the puppet, but it didn’t really work. It turns out audiences need a fair amount of warming up before you pull out a raven with a Mancunian accent.

And I was sick of Alan sitting on top of a cupboard, silently watching me like an estranged double-act partner.

Eventually, I decided to cut him from the show and write some jokes instead. So, to answer your question, Nevermore is a stand-up comedy show that could have had a puppet raven in it, but doesn’t.

Where else might we know you from?

I was lucky enough to appear on the last ever episode of Mock the Week, just before the BBC cancelled the show (which was just a coincidence, honestly).

If If you’re a fan of the information superhighway, you might have seen one of my parody videos on YouTube. And if you don’t have a TV or a smartphone, you might have seen me in the stained-glass windows of your local church.

What do you hope audiences take away from Nevermore?

I’m always looking for the person who really gets it. I will be happy if my show speaks to just one person. I’ll be happy if just one person comes away thinking, “I am going to become ABK’s mysterious benefactor. I shall make a gentleman of this young fellow.”

If that happens, from a financial perspective, it will all have been worth it.

When you graduated from film school, did you know then you’d become a stand-up comedian?

Not exactly, but I had a strong feeling that I wasn’t going to become famous film director. The short films I made were not popular with the tutors, who scoffed at my (supposedly) dramatic scenes.

I can’t be the only comedian who started out trying to be super serious and made people laugh by accident?

Around the time I was graduating from film school, I started going to open mics and discovered that making people laugh on purpose was a lot more enjoyable.

Alasdair Beckett-King. Picture: Edward Moore
Alasdair Beckett-King. Picture: Edward Moore

Tell us about your very popular spoofs on YouTube.

I create short videos and animations parodying different genres of film, TV and video games. And I love it, because I get to write silly jokes, make incredibly niche observations and dip into dozens of different styles.

It’s lovely to do a stand-up comedy show, and have people come up to me afterwards wanting to talk about something completely ridiculous, like The Little Man Who Lives in the Crisps.

Your comedy is often described as whimsical – how do you define whimsy?

I describe my stuff as “hard-hitting whimsy” because I enjoy silly cleverness and clever silliness.

Being embarrassed about enjoying whimsy is like being ashamed of liking fun. And yet, some people have a real problem with whimsy.

“I can’t stand whimsy, I just can’t stand it!” an antelope told me recently. But I will not be silenced.

What is the difference in mindset between creating a stand-up show versus a YouTube video?

After years of staying at home making sketches in my tiny flat, I really missed stand-up comedy.

I missed touring. I missed it in the same way that you miss your parents when you don’t see them for ages. And then, after half an hour with them, you’ve had enough.

What has been the highlight of your comedy career so far, and where would you like to take it next?

The comedy world is far from fair and even-handed. But one of the nicer things about it is getting to work with really good comedians.

A brand-new comic could turn up to their first gig and, if they’re lucky, gig alongside someone huge off the telly trying out new material.

It may not happen often, but it’s hard to imagine something like that happening to filmmakers or musicians.

So my highlight is getting to gig with people I have been a fan of since I was a kid. And my next goal is to crush all those established comedians, crush them into dust.

And lastly, what are you most looking forward to about coming to Cambridge?

Cambridge was one of the highlights of my 2023 tour, and the audience even forgave me for describing Cambridge as “the Oxford of Cambridgeshire”. A mistake I promise not to repeat this time around.

I’m really looking forward to returning to the Junction, even though I’m 90 per cent certain I’ll get lost between the train station and the venue. I always do.

Alasdair Beckett-King will be performing at the Cambridge Junction (J2) on Friday, 5 April. Tickets, priced £20, are available from junction.co.uk.

[Read more: Stand-up comedian Mark Simmons: ‘I failed until I stopped failing as much’]

For more on ABK, go to abeckettking.com, or follow him on Twitter at @MisterABK, and on YouTube at youtube.com/c/abeckettking.

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