Not many breaks in life of a comic

IF YOU think he’s gay, you’re wrong. If you think he’s rich, you’re wrong (for the moment). If you think he’s going to be comedy’s next big thing, you’re almost certainly right.

Hal Cruttenden has been well known in stand-up circles for a few years and has been gradually becoming better-known to TV viewers, thanks to appearances on Michael McIntyre’s show, alongside Rob Brydon or as a regular panelist on Mock the Week.

STANDING UP - Hal Cruttenden

STANDING UP – Hal Cruttenden

He’s now experiencing sellout dates on his first solo tour but claims he’s still very far from being rich and famous.

“People think you’re much more successful and happier than you actually are,” says Hal (below). “And they assume you’re richer.

“Jason Manford told me he was on a bus in Manchester the other day and someone said to him ‘What are you doing on a bus?!’ and I met Shappi Khorsandi on Regent Street on Saturday night, running between gigs and she said she was trying to get a bus to Brixton. That’s how it is for most of us comics.”

Another misconception surrounding the ex-public school comic probably comes from his camp persona and he says several hecklers have assumed he’s gay.

In fact he’s married (to a woman) and has two children, and says: “When I was a kid I wanted to play football and all the boys’ things, but I was a softly-spoken kid and just knew I would never be Bruce Willis.

“I think camper, more effeminate men know how they sound from an early age. But I camp it up on purpose as a defence mechanism, and think a lot of other comics do too.”

Having been brought up in a house full of women and now living with his wife and two daughters, some of that femininity is bound to rub off. Hal says he’s not bothered but doesn’t want his campness to become a major part of his act – he’s more interested in exploring the stereotypes it confronts.

“When I make jokes about, say, Northerners being all poor, salt-of-the-Earth, ‘real’ people, and Southerners being all stuck-up and rude to each other, it’s the stereotypes I’m laughing at,” he explains.

“I think most people know this but sometimes there’s the odd one who thinks I actually am anti-whatever, and there’s nothing you can do about that.

“But anyone who knows me knows I’m not especially from one place or am one thing really, so I suppose that’s why I’m so interested in all these stereotypes, which are all rubbish of course.”

As for his own image, he says: “I think people who come to see me know to expect a southern middle-class softie.

“And I suspect that after this government, people generally will be less friendly to posh ex-public school boys.

“But there shouldn’t really be any hostility towards me for having been to public school because while I was given that opportunity, I threw it away.

“Going into the city and going into the government would have been easy but I thought ‘No, I need a bigger challenge – I want to play working men’s clubs in Huddersfield’ – so I went into showbiz.”

Hal will be at G Live in Guildford on Saturday (October 5) and Sunday (October 6).

He will also be playing Prince Charming’s assistant Dandini in this year’s Woking panto – Cinderella at the New Victoria Theatre from December 6 until January 5.

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