Tom’s home dis­com­forts

LIV­ING WITH HIS PAR­ENTS PRO­VIDES A RICH VEIN TO MINE FOR ERU­DITE CO­ME­DIAN

Caernarfon Herald - - YOUR GUIDE -

AMAN who has sup­ported Sarah Mil­li­can around the world (comed­i­cally speak­ing), won the pres­ti­gious So You Think You’re Funny Award, and has been favourably com­pared to Ed­die Iz­zard, Vic­to­ria Wood and Os­car Wilde, Tom Allen is quite sim­ply one of the most eru­dite acts in Bri­tish com­edy.

Never hap­pier than when he’s toss­ing out quotes from the poet Wil­liam Henry Davies or lyrics from the movie Grease, Tom is pos­i­tively purring when he con­sid­ers his up­com­ing tour of the land for new show, Ab­so­lutely.

And early prepa­ra­tions have been pro­ceed­ing most agree­ably: “I like to do a pre­view around the house, maybe for some teddy bears: they’re a gay so­cial group­ing that I know. You want it to feel fresh and in­vent around it and add things and you want to be re­laxed about it. Last year I talked a lot about things in my past, this time I wanted to do some­thing about my present which ad­mit­tedly re­mains dogged by my past be­cause I’m still liv­ing with my par­ents.”

Of course, Tom is not alone in this sit­u­a­tion with many peo­ple un­able to af­ford their own home. He aims to cap­ture this feel­ing of frus­tra­tion in his new show. “As we saw in the gen­eral elec­tion, my gen­er­a­tion and those younger than me are feel­ing, ‘well, you’ve got to do some­thing for us; give us one thing to look for­ward to.’ I cer­tainly wouldn’t con­sider my­self a po­lit­i­cal co­me­dian but it’s an in­ter­est­ing time, though for me it’s still com­bined with a height­ened sense of snob­bery: I still have an air about me that’s, ‘well, of course I still want av­o­cado on sour­dough bread’ and ‘no, we’re not go­ing to a Toby Carvery for din­ner, ab­so­lutely not’.”

Liv­ing at home with his par­ents will inevitably lead to some fric­tion, no mat­ter how much they love each other. “At one point, I started giv­ing my dad some in­te­rior de­sign ad­vice about hav­ing the desk at a par­tic­u­lar an­gle by the win­dow and he said ‘why don’t you get your own house?’ There’s a lit­tle bit of ten­sion around. We dec­o­rated my room in a bid to cre­ate the il­lu­sion of me hav­ing con­trol over my life; I took time choos­ing what colours to have and what lamps to go with and then mum and aunt Chris­tine went to Dunelm Mill and bought me a lamp that they liked. It was very nice but not what I wanted, and you can’t just hide that in the cup­board. So­cially it’s very com­pli­cated, and re­sults in lots of ly­ing and even­tu­ally an ex­plo­sive ar­gu­ment: it’s great value.”

Still, there are some changes afoot in Tom’s life and the good news is that he’s passed his driv­ing test at the third at­tempt. “I had a lovely two to three years of learn­ing; it was like an­other de­gree and I feel very happy that I can drive. What I want to talk about in the show is that sense of mov­ing for­ward. I think a lot of peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence those around them run­ning ahead and some­times if you’re not in the same boat as them (not get­ting mar­ried or not own­ing your own home) you can feel a bit left out. For me, I won­der, well, is what they’re do­ing nec­es­sar­ily bet­ter? So, I’ll talk about wed­dings and some hen par­ties I’ve been in­vited to. I don’t know when that started, when gay men be­gan to be in­vited to hen dos. I don’t think les­bian hen dos in­vite a straight bloke along so they can sit in front of Sky Sports.”

You’d have as­sumed that hav­ing passed his driv­ing test, a sense of lib­er­a­tion, free­dom and ex­tra bon vi­vant would have washed over Tom. Not a bit of it. “Be­cause I couldn’t af­ford my own in­sur­ance on a car, I got in­sured on mum and dad’s Ford Fi­esta Zetec, 1.5 litre en­gine, five doors. The boot doesn’t open, which is not a eu­phemism. The car is ma­roon which is great be­cause it goes with noth­ing, and so clashes no mat­ter what I wear. There’s moss on the back win­dows and the wing mir­rors are held on by gaffer tape. To quote from the song Greased Light­ning, it’s a real pussy wagon.”

As some­one who is on the road a lot, Tom is now able to get him­self around. “One of the things I get anx­ious about it is get­ting petrol on my hands: what if it burns? So, I put the gloves on at the petrol sta­tion, and there are those tis­sues you can use. But when I did so, my friend openly mocked me.”

Mo­tor­ing is­sues aside, as some­one who clearly has a deep love of lan­guage, you can imag­ine Tom joy­fully rev­el­ling in the dis­cov­ery of new words. “I do like words. I learned the word es­o­teric just the other day: ‘that which is cre­ated or de­liv­ered for a spe­cific au­di­ence or an au­di­ence with a spe­cific ref­er­ence point’. I don’t know if I’m es­o­teric; I think I’d like to think I was, but in re­al­ity I’m ac­tu­ally very or­di­nary. But isn’t that the game we all play, the se­cret we all hide is that we’re ac­tu­ally the same as ev­ery­body else. I do say the word ‘ab­so­lutely’ quite a lot and last year I called my show In­deed. They’re just words for say­ing yes, and it is im­por­tant to say yes to things and to live life to the full as much as one can.”

Tom Allen is at Ga­leri Caernar­fon on June 9 and Wil­liam As­ton Hall, Wrex­ham, on July 26.

● Tom Allen’s Ab­so­lutely tour is com­ing to Caernar­fon and Wrex­ham

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