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Alan Davies: 'People told me therapy would make me unfunny'


I don't feel like a veteran even though I did my first gig at Whitstable Labour Club in 1988. The people I revered when I was young were people such as Dave Allen, who I saw in 1991 when he was around 60. I saw Bill Cosby at the Royal Albert Hall in the early 1990s. He did two-and-a-half hours, just ambled out and started talking and got a genuine standing ovation at the end.

Once you have a routine that works, you wonder if you'll ever think of another funny thing That stopped me from gigging and I fell out of love with touring a decade ago. I did some try-outs in 2011. I was keeping notes and going, "That's not funny, that's not funny." But there is nothing like fear of failure to get you working so I went back to small London clubs. It doesn't matter who you are there, you've got to be funny.

I'm definitely mellower Or maybe just knackered. Marriage [in 2007 to children's author Katie Maskell] was almost immediately stabilising. Therapy also helped. I started when I came off the circuit. People said, "It will make you unfunny," but it makes you more comfortable about where you are.

I feel as strongly as ever about politics – but whether I'm able to be as active as my peers I don't know. If someone says, "There's a march, let's go," it's not as easy – I'd need a babysitter. Also there's so many issues, it's hard to unite and fight one thing. With CND it was clearer what was being opposed – nuclear war.

I'm still a member of the Labour Party, but it's hard to be as partisan I look at any politician on Question Time and can't tolerate it. They just go into a default position trying to score points.

It wasn't my mother's death when I was six that drove me on I don't know why I was ambitious, I just was. The successful comedians of my generation – Jack Dee, Jo Brand, Harry Hill, Lee Evans – just worked really hard. I read an interview with Jessica Ennis, who said her siblings were good athletes but for some reason she would train week in, week out and they didn't. She can't explain why.

Comedians are not a well-adjusted bunch We are all weirdos. When I started there wasn't a lot of cocaine about but it went through the circuit in the 1990s. I was very pleased to miss that. You'd see people storming it and think they'd break through, then two years later you'd ask what happened to them and they'd be coked off their heads.

Nobody could have foreseen the fantastic popularity of stand-up now It's a very interesting time. But the next generation will react against it like punk did in music and it might be even more interesting.

Alan Davies, 46, is a comedian and actor. He is best known as the star of 'Jonathan Creek', which returns for a one-off special this Easter. He is also touring and appears at the Hammersmith Apollo from February 16 to 17 (ticketmaster.co.uk)