Preview: Andrew O'Neill @ Cockpit Theatre

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 104 months ago
Preview: Andrew O'Neill @ Cockpit Theatre

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Andrew O'Neill seems a bit unsure about our words
Andrew O'Neill's Wikipedia entry begins thus: "he is a vegan, anarchist, stand-up comedian, musician and writer". How could we not be intrigued and impressed? And how could we not want to go see this erudite, absurdist, deadpan comic tell us about the Industrial Revolution in his Totally Spot-On History Of British Industry?

Andrew played the show at least year's Edinburgh Festival (you may also have seem him in Winston Churchill was Jack The Ripper and futuristicelectrodeathninja9000, or his appearance in Saxondale) and he's now touring the UK. He sets up his Spinning Jenny in the Cockpit Theatre for three nights from this Thursday. We'll be there to learn totally non-spurious stuff about Luddites and hear a song about coal, and we think you should be too. If you're still not convinced, read the interview we did with the man himself below.

Andrew O'Neill's Totally Spot-On History of British Industry, Cockpit Theatre, NW8 8EH, 23-25 April. For more information see his website or call the box office on 020 7258 2925.

How do you describe your comedy style?

A mash-up of styles gleaned from a lifetime of comedy geekery. I pretty much cover the whole spectrum from knob gags to Industrial Revolution in-jokes. And a lot of surrealism.

For anyone who didn't catch it at Edinburgh, what can we expect from your show?

A relentless barrage of lies. I cover the past, present and nightmarish dystopian future of British Industry. It's the funniest thing I've written and it has a bit where I play air-slap-bass for about 2 minutes too long. There's singing too. And a fake beard.

Just how spot-on is your history?

Put it this way: that recent spate of high-profile historian suicides? That's down to me.

More after the jump... you know you want to.

Do you think there's been a resurgence of public appetite for intelligent comedy, in some small way? What do you think is behind it?

People are more intelligent than they are given credit for by the people who produce popular culture. Personally I'm sick of being treated like a backward child by the media. This is why Stewart Lee's show is so loved by the people who get it. It's exactly the opposite of the shit that we're normally fed.

I can't really help but write the sort of thing I'd want to see myself. It's the only way of coming up with good stuff. And I trust my own judgement!

You were nominated for a Chortle award. What are your feelings about award ceremonies?

They give you free booze. What's not to like? I was nominated for 'breakthrough act' but I didn't win. Which means I am now trapped, scrabbling underneath some weird comedy membrane.

How did you get into comedy?

On a school trip to BBC Television Centre I was bitten by a radioactive Rowan Atkinson. Ever since then I have fought crime and done comedy.

What's the best heckle you've ever had? And, more to the point, what was your comeback?

In Leeds, where all the best heckles happen, I was talking about heckling. This woman, genuinely not knowing what she was doing, shouted out, "WHAT'S A HECKLE?"

I couldn't reply - I was too busy dealing with the hole she ripped in the fabric of reality.

What was it like working with Steve Coogan on Saxondale?

Horrible. He's a nice guy but he stinks. He surrounds himself by yes-men, so nobody has the guts to tell him. He smells like rotten fruit. I actually retched when I first met him. He never washes and he spits a lot. Plus he can't say the word 'potential'.

Were you out protesting at the G20?

Yep. Sometimes the cunts that run the show need to know we're not happy. It's a shame that it takes someone dying for people to pay attention to the aggressive tactics the police employ. That incident is not an exception - I've seen that sort of thing happen dozens of times over the years. Ho hum.

What's your favourite bit of London?

The tops of buildings. London is much prettier when you look up. I've recently moved to Tufnell Park, so I'm enjoying Hampstead Heath a lot too.

Where would you recommend people go to watch comedy in London?

Downstairs at the King's Head in Crouch End is the best venue in London. Also - come and see MY SHOW AT THE COCKPIT THEATRE in Marylebone.

Who are your favourite comedians around at the moment?

Simon Munnery is my long-standing favourite, Brian Gittins is my new favourite, Caroline Mabey is my hot tip for the future.

Have you ever been sick on the tube?

No. I'm not much of a puker. I tend to just get belligerent when drunk.

Last Updated 20 April 2009