Alexander Bennett runs a regular first-Tuesday-of the-month comedy show in London – This Is Not a Cult in Camden.
Yesterday, I met him at King’s Cross station. I do not know why. We had thirteen minutes to talk.
“This chat is for quoting in my blog,” I told him, “so I have to ask if you have had any nervous breakdowns, long periods of heroin addiction, run-ins with prostitutes and gangsters, visits to Thailand or recent experiences with enemas?”
“For your blog,” Alexander told me, “everything except Thailand, because I can’t afford to go on holiday.”
“What are you doing at the moment?” I asked.
“I’m preparing for the Edinburgh Fringe in August – I’m possibly doing two shows. One will be my stand-up comedy show and the second one is a gameshow set in Hell where I play the Devil.”
“Type-casting?” I suggested.
“Possibly,” admitted Alexander. “Two audience members have to play to keep their soul. Each rounds in the gameshow will be hosted by a different historical character – Watercolour Challenge hosted by Adolf Hitler; What’s My Organ? hosted by Jeffrey Dahmer…”
“I had forgotten about your fascination with serial killers and mass-murderers,” I said.
“…and so on and so forth,” concluded Alexander. “I wanted to do something with lots and lots of other comics.”
“What happens,” I asked, “if the two members of the audience lose in their attempt to keep their souls?”
“Something unexpected,” said Alexander. “Nobody at the moment is doing…”
“Hellish shows?” I asked. “That’s a matter of opinion.”
“… fun bad taste shows,” concluded Alexander. “You get your brutal Frankie Boyles or Andrew Lawrences, but nobody’s doing stuff that’s bad taste but fun – as in the specific meaning of bad taste – taking the subject too lightly.”
“Are gameshows with the Devil really bad taste?” I asked.
“Well, if you put Jeffrey Dahmer and Hitler in them, yeah. And a few others.”
“And your other Fringe show?” I asked. “The stand-up comedy one – the non-bad-taste one. That is…?”
“Alexander Bennett – I Can Make you a Moron, which is making people stupid for their own sake.”
“Do you think people might avoid sitting in the front row for that one?” I asked.
“I’ll make them. The idea is the world is too complicated and the only way to be happy is to be stupid.”
“You are still developing that?” I asked.
“Well, I’m doing a show – Your Beloved Alexander Bennett – at the Leicester Comedy Festival this Saturday. It’s sort-of halfway between last year’s Edinburgh Fringe show and this year’s one. So I get to try out new material without massively pissing-off anyone in Leicester.”
“That’s for them to judge,” I suggested.
“I’ve got quotes from Chortle and Harry Hill and the Guardian on my publicity,” said Alexander, “so I hope that will lure them in.”
For the record, the Harry Hill quote is: Witty, weird and dark, the one to watch out for: at the spearhead of a wave of great new comics. All hail Alexander Bennett!
Your beloved Alexander Bennett likes to be hailed.
And quite right too.
“Anything bizarre happen to you on the way here?” I asked him.
“I think you’re clutching at straws for your blog,” he told me.
“You’re a comedian,” I said. “Things always happen to comedians on the way to anywhere.”
“I was in Chester at the weekend,” he told me, “performing to a hen party.”
“Did you keep your clothes on?” I asked.
“Yes. But, during the show, one of the hens just started shouting out the word Cock!”
“Was that,” I asked, “because she thought you were one or she wanted to see one?”
“These were details,” admitted Alexander, “that needed clarification. She just shouted out the word Cock! at regular intervals. Then, after the show, a slightly older woman came up to me and said: I’m really sorry that my daughter kept shouting out the word Cock! during your performance. She is really drunk. I wouldn’t mind, but she’s a fucking lesbian.”
“That will do,” I told him.