Tom Allen – 'I don't think lesbian hen dos invite a straight bloke along to sit in front of Sky Sports'
- Brian Donaldson
- 24 July 2017
The suave comic takes Absolutely to the Edinburgh Fringe before heading out on tour
He's supported Sarah Millican around the world, won the prestigious So You Think You're Funny Award, and been favourably compared to Eddie Izzard, Victoria Wood and Oscar Wilde. The erudite Tom Allen is back with a new show about moving on. Here he discusses the advantages of pausing on stage and the perils of bay parking with your dad
So, what is your new show Absolutely all about?
Last year I talked a lot about things in my past and this time I wanted to do something about my present which admittedly is still dogged by my past because I'm still living with my parents. But the good news is that I passed my driving test. I had a lovely two to three years of learning like it was another degree and I feel very happy that I can drive. What I really want to talk about is that sense of moving forward. I think a lot of people experience that thing of those around you running ahead: sometimes if you're not in the same boat as them or if you're not getting married or not owning your own home, you can feel a bit left out. But is what they're doing necessarily better? I talk about weddings and some hen parties that I've been invited to. I don't quite know when it started that gay men began to be invited to hen dos; I don't think lesbian hen dos invite a straight bloke along to sit in front of Sky Sports.
Before you learned to drive, were you one of those backseat driver types?
No, I would be very laid-back and have a lovely time, happily eating boiled sweets and whatever the next service station would be offering. Now that I'm a driver I'm much more aware of my friends' shortcomings as drivers such as not indicating, getting too close to other vehicles, texting while driving. Round about the time of my test, my dad went out with me to practice bay parking and I thought that would be a great time for us share fun times, create memories. But it turns out that my dad, who was born during the Blitz, is not one to find the fun vibe in bay parking in an out-of-hours Sainsbury's car park.
Suzi Ruffell, your podcast pal on Like Minded Friends, said that you use silence and quiet moments very well
I've always said that telling jokes is a bit musical because you have a little rest in the rhythm of it; it's very rhythmical. The more you take time over what you're saying, the more engaged an audience will be and they'll think 'well, this guy is confident'. If you want to sound confident, just slow down what you're saying. In this hectic world, just have a bit of a pause sometimes.
At the Edinburgh Fringe, you'll be performing Absolutely in the Pleasance Courtyard's history-drenched Cabaret Bar
It's such a nice room to do a show in, which is probably why it has this great history. Comedy rooms have a bit of a science to them which make them work properly and the Cabaret Bar is one that has it made. It's quite a coveted place to be and I'm very grateful and humble: hashtag blessed. It's my tenth year at the festival so I feel I know it a bit better, but it's still a daunting thing for everyone there to get it right and do as well as you can do. I love seeing friends when I'm there and it's now more about celebrating the work rather than worrying.
Tom Allen: Absolutely, Pleasance Courtyard, 5–27 Aug (not 14), 8pm, £8.50–£11 (£7.50–£10). Previews 2–4 Aug, £7. Then touring from 15 Sep to 9 Dec.