Alan makes a toast to life’s Little Victories

LITTLE victories can make life worthwhile. Little Victories is also the title of comic Alan Davies’ latest tour – and it’s all based on his dad and, er, jam.

“It comes from a routine about me trying to get my dad to eat blackcurrant jam,” he explains.

COMIC - Alan Davies

COMIC – Alan Davies

“He has a limited palate. He also thinks that Indian food would make him ill. It would drive us mad as children – it’s almost pathological. He has just decided that 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 … That’s one of the routines in the show. It’s a classic little victory.”

Another of the major themes of the show is how to be a good parent. Alan, who has also enjoyed a highly successful acting career on series such as Bob and Rose and Jonathan Creek, back on BBC1 this spring, says: “It’s on me to keep my children happy.

“They’re full of fun and laughter and have really nice days. I can’t bear to think of them being anxious.” But, Alan adds, there is a danger that we glorify our children too much.

“These days children are worshipped. Look at those parents who send pictures of their children as Christmas cards. “We were house-hunting recently, and we saw a house that must have contained 200 framed photos of the owners’ children.

“Really? Those frames cost a bit, too!” Alan, who returned to stand-up a couple of years ago after a 10-year break, says what keeps him vibrant and fresh is that he has never fallen into complacency.

The comic, who has been a regular panellist for the past 11 years on BBC2’s panel show, QI, says: “You must never sit on your laurels. I remember a TV drama exec once coming on set and saying, ‘I’ve just seen the rushes and I smell BAFTAs’.

“I thought, ‘No, what you’ve smelt is the dog poo you’ve just trodden in. You don’t know what you’re talking about’. “Good comedians never come off the stage punching the air and shouting, ‘I rule, baby!’ They say: ‘That was OK’. Recently I met the magician David Copperfield who does 600 shows a year. He told me ‘I’m never satisfied with my performance. I always think I could have done it better.’ ”

Alan shows no sign of wanting to take another break from stand-up. Now he’s got the taste for it again, he doesn’t want to stop. “I love it,” he beams. “And I really like touring – I get a big kick out of it. I don’t find it arduous at all. It’s that or a 17-hour day looking after toddlers, which is much more difficult! Stand-up is a doddle comparatively. You go around the country making people laugh. It’s a really nice thing to do. “I was talking to Rich Hall recently.

He’s 58 and still enjoys touring. I remember once going to see Bill Cosby at the Royal Albert Hall in London. He was in his 60s. He did an amazing two-and-a-half hour show and received a standing ovation. “Absolutely inspiring. Let’s see where I am in 20 years’ time, but I know I’ve still got a long way to go.” Alan closes by reflecting on how lucky he feels.

“Having been away from stand-up for so long, I initially returned to it rather unwillingly.

“But now I count my blessings, which is something you don’t always do when you’re younger. I can’t do eight nights at the 02 or sell a million DVDs. But I’m still in a very privileged position where a lot of comedians would love to be. “I went to Sweden in 2012 with the QI producer John Lloyd to watch a recording of their version of QI. “They had also asked me to do a stand-up show. I said, ‘Really? Will they get it?’ But sure enough, the Swedish audience understood every single word and were loudly enthusiastic.

“Afterwards John said to me ‘Every night people laugh and clap and leave happy. Not a bad job, is it?’ I said ‘It’s a great job’.” Alan Davies brings his Little Victories tour to G Live in Guildford on Saturday, April 26.

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