When comedian, actor and regular QI panelist Alan Davies brings his latest stand up show to the Villa Marina next week it won’t be his first visit to the Isle of Man.
In fact, he’s visited as a child with his family and more recently with his wife when they took in a lap of the TT course. ‘My father was quite interested in motor sport and coming from Essex we were close to Brand’s Hatch motor racing circuit so we used to go there sometimes,’ he said.
‘My father brought us over to the Isle of Man and I’ve been over with my wife for the TT as well. We borrowed a 600cc Honda and did a lap of the TT course. We were doing about 60 or 70mph over the mountain, which was exciting and people in the right hand lane were flying past at about 120mph and disappearing in to the fog.
‘It was quite thrilling and alarming at the same time.’
His last stand up tour in 2012 was called Life is Pain - the response (overheard) of a six-year-old girl after being told off by her mother.
‘I wondered whether to stick with the same theme and call this tour Sex is Pain,’ he said. ‘But it was suggested to me that it might pull in the wrong crowd.’
In fact, the latest tour is called Little Victories and is a reference to being brought up by his father after his mother died when he was six.
‘It’s about trying to get around my dad: he was a difficult opponent! It ended up being quite an apt title really because as a parent myself now I know life is made up of little victories.’
The show has evolved over a period from hastily jotted down notes of ideas and snatches of overheard conversation. Gradually it takes shape and is refined into the final product.
‘It’s pretty raw at the beginning but by the time it’s on the road it’s settled down, but it isn’t scripted,’ he said.
So do audiences vary? Is there a north-south comedy divide and are Glasgow audiences really the hardest to please?
‘I don’t think audiences really vary. Generally they laugh at the same things but maybe my accent is easier on the ear for those within the M25 corridor! When I went to Glasgow it was an Easter weekend so with four days off work any potential hecklers were out on the town. We were left with the quiet cerebral and introspective audience.’
Comedy influences in his childhood were mainly the big stars who dominated 70s and 80s family television: Eric Morcambe, Ronnie Barker, Dave Allen and, casting the net wider, people like Woody Allen and John Belushi.
‘One of the best stand up gigs I saw was Bill Cosby who performed for two-and-a-half hours and ended with a standing ovation,’ he said.
Comedian and musician Bill Bailey is a friend of 25 years’ standing. Of the contemporary line-up of comics he rates the likes of Tim Minchin, Izzy Suttie, Sarah Pascoe and American Rob Becker.
As well as starring in the popular series Jonathan Creek, Davies is the regular panelist on QI: ‘It seems random but there’s huge behind-the-scenes research - then we come in and spoil it. We are at letter L now so if we can get to the end of the alphabet I’ve calculated there’s work for me until I’m 62. That’s the ambition anyway.’
Alan Davies’ stand up, Little Victories is at the Villa Marina on December 11. For tickets call the box office on 600555 or visit villagaiety.com