An Interview with Steve N. Allen

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A Mash Reporter live in Edinburgh? Its true!


Hello Steve, first things first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
My home town is Sutton-in-Ashfield, just outside Mansfield in the East Midlands. I’m pleased that finally the East Midlands is getting some recognition. There was a long gap between Robin Hood and Torvill and Dean.

When did you first realise you were funny?
It took a while. My family were the kind of people who could laugh like drains if  someone broke wind. I thought that the funny gene may have skipped me but when I got to comprehensive school that’s when I found comedy. I used to do bits in the morning lessons and if they worked I’d do them again in the afternoon ones.

Can you tell us about your career as a BBC radio phone-in host?
I used to be the other kind, the music presenter. There are only so many times you can try to sound pleased that you’re playing the same songs again so I moved across and
speech-based radio is an exciting place to be now. Absolutely everything has become polarised. From Brexit, to straws via every other news story someone will be self-
righteously angry about it.

How did you get into live comedy?
I paid my way through university writing jokes for local radio morning DJs but I’d tune in and get grumpy about how they delivered them. Even then I realised you can’t really criticise someone;s delivery if you;re not willing to try it yourself. So I did. I started trying out my jokes at open mic nights and that’s where I got hooked.

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You’ve got three famous comedians (dead or alive) coming round for dinner. Who
would they be & what would you cook; starters, mains & dessert?
OK, let’s go for Groucho Marx, Lenny Bruce and Bernard Manning and we can sit there while Bernard gets taught a thing or two about how comedy can be used. The food would be true to my working class roots. Prawn cocktail, fish fingers and chips and then Arctic roll. Portions for one, because all the other people there are dead.

You’re performing at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe; what are you bringing to the table?
It’s the first Edinburg I’ve done since landed the gig on BBC 2’s The Mash Report, so it’s been nice to have the as seen on TV part of plugging it. I think that means people may give you slightly more attention and listen to what you have to say so I came up with a show about how I think we can be better people. We all know the right thing to do really, we are just really good at finding an excuse to do the worse thing. Get rid of those excuses and we could all live together with happiness and peace. It means you’d have to find another hobby other than hating people and being angry about everything, so I realise it’s a tough sell.

Has making & performing this show made YOU a better person?
It really has. When you spot a habit in other people it’s worth checking to see if you do it too. It’s no fun finding out you’re just as guilty of these habits but no one should be happy with being a hypocrite. Part of researching this show was learning about confirmation bias, and hearing that the experts who study it still find that they do it even though they know all about it. It means that trying to be better is a non-stop struggle but I believe it’s worth it.

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How are you finding the Fringe experience of 2019?
Wet and tiring, just as the Fringe should be. I get this mix of feelings where I wish I could live like this all the time; waking up writing comedy, doing gigs, plugging shows on the radio, enjoying the most intense version of the job, but I also realise I wouldn’t last a week into September and if I don’t get a solid two days of sleep when I get home I may never recover.

What have been the biggest changes since your first Fringe?
The numbers of performers has increased so much since my first run. The urge to perform outweighs the desire of audiences to see performances and seeing as you need at least 20 people for every show performers put on, there is a thin-spreading effect. I quite like it when I’m walking in the New Town area, getting my mind out of the Fringe for a second, walk past a shop and see it has a sign saying Venue 3,248 and they have gigs on in there.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the streets of Edinburgh,
what would you say?
Hey look at this flyer, it’s the guy from The Mash Report doing stand-up about making the world a better place. Only slightly better, but don’t we need it? If the world isn’t a better place at the end of August, no refunds! What’s that? Yes, it does look like me, doesn’t it? He’s doing so well he can hire lookalikes to do his flyering for him.

What will you be doing for the rest of 2019?
Sleeping for at least two days when I get home. The week after we’re back with the next series of The Mash Report. And there’s also an exciting radio project which I won’t go into details about to make it sound all mysterious and in case I get sacked from it.


Better Than

Stand 2

Aug 2-25 (20:50)

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www.mrstevenallen.co.uk

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