Yorkshire-born stand-up comic Alun Cochrane on ignorant hecklers and where panel shows are going wrong…

Your last Edinburgh show, where you went on stage with a bucket full of jokes, was a response to a heckler at a previous show telling you to do more jokes. He really got to you, huh?
No, I actually just thought the next day maybe I should do jokes. I quite like to do jokes. I don’t worry about the guy shouting “tell us a joke” particularly, because basically he’s trying to say “get off”. He’s not giving me a constructive evaluation on the next chapter of my career! Heckles are just part of it. I mean, obviously they do hurt and I really dislike the “tell us a joke” heckle. What that heckle is effectively saying is “I can 
only enjoy humour in a package I recognise cos I’m thick as pigshit”.

You’ve become known as “The Peach Man” after your observational piece about watching a man eat a peach 
on a train. It hit a chord with people …

I remember when I was doing that material on the circuit and I remember it  got loads better the moment I realised that I wasn’t the only person who eats a peach standing over their kitchen sink. That moment is one of those surprise moments for a stand-up comic where people go “I do that as well” and you go, “Really – we all stand over the sink – who knew!?” And I love that about stand up comedy. I love discovering that I’m not the only one who does this strange thing.

So being a stand-up helps you realise you’re not the only freak around.
Yeah, I mean there’s a bit on my last tour about how frightening it is when your 
SatNav falls off the car window towards you, you know when the little suction things just go “fuck it” and jump off, and those little moments where you think “maybe it’s just me” and you get 400 people pissing themselves at the story and you think, “Oh, I’ve found something else 
that happens to us all that no-one else 
has really spotted it before”.

Is having a strong Yorkshire accent 
an asset to a comedian?
I was told last night after a gig that a Northern accent really helps but I’m not sure – being funny helps more. If you go to an open mic night I guarantee you’ll see ten acts with ten different accents and it won’t matter a bit because the funniest ones will be the funniest ones and it won’t matter if they’re Cockney or Brummie or Irish or American.

You’ve done a few TV panel shows 
in your time. Is there a lot of pressure to be funnier than the next guy?
Yeah, and I think it’s unhealthy and I think one of the reasons I’m not on those shows now is they don’t provide a good opportunity for me to do what I like doing, which is talking around a subject. 
I mean, Mock The Week just looks unpleasant now. I’m surprised so many people watch it cos you can see how competititve it is. It’s a bit like a car crash and lots of people want to look.

Ever died on stage?
I don’t really think about the bad gigs to be honest. But I once saw a performer get a tampon thrown in his face. A magician called a woman up to the stage who’d been heckling him and she put her hand in her knickers and pulled out a tampon and threw it in his face. Once you’ve seen that happen you realise just being heckled is no longer a problem.

What did you have for breakfast?
I slept in and missed the hotel breakfast so I ended up having a chicken sandwhich in a train station.

Tell us your karaoke tune
I haven’t got a karaoke tune. What’s 
the point of me doing karaoke when 
it’s on the fucking telly every weekend.

Ever mistaken for someone famous, apart 
from yourself?
People think I look like 
the guy off the BT Internet 
adverts – Kris Marshall. I 
do occassionally get Clint Eastwood or Shaggy from Scooby Doo.

Alun Cochrane will be at the Elgar Room, Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, SW7 2A 
Tube: South Kensington
020 7589 8212
Thursday, January 27

Interview: Alison Grinter