As show titles go, Alunish Cochranish isn’t the most attention-grabbing headline you’ll see, but it is pretty accurate. In fact, it does a remarkable job of signalling what to expect from the Yorkshire-born stand-up – it’s possibly the most ‘Alun Cochrane’ show that Alun Cochrane has ever done.
What that resulted in was an hour of observational comedy – a disjointed collection of stories from Cochrane’s life, performed warmly and in his unmistakably gentle way. After being ably supported by Mike Newall, Cochrane delved into material about sneezing, the prison service, and a host of subjects plucked from everyday life, from which he’d effortlessly wring layers of jokes and relatable whimsy.
It’s when he reached for meatier topics such as religion and politics that the level started to dip. While it’s certainly understandable that some comics might feel that Brexit is too divisive an issue to take a firm position on during a set, Cochrane opted to raise it but without really adding much of substance to the conversation – a safe routine couched in caveats and hedged bets, which didn’t alienate any political allegiances but also didn’t seem to introduce much in the way of material strong enough to justify the detour.
A routine about the weird intricacies of greetings and goodbyes got things back in track, though, and highlighted where Cochrane’s strengths lie. There’s an everyman quality to his performance style, and a universality to his material, which imbued vignettes such as this with a potent humour – it’s an almost Seinfeldian obsession with the minutiae of life and social situations which have underpinned his act, but delivered with such a unique, off-kilter take on the world that Cochrane really doesn’t sound like anyone else.
And on the whole, that’s something we should all be grateful for.