Fast-talking funnyman Hal Cruttenden brings his new tour to Christ’s Hospital, Horsham, on Thursday, September 24 (8pm).
In Straight Outta Cruttenden Hal rants about the evils of the modern world, using anecdotes from his life, while tackling subjects like the 5:2 diet and our obsession with social media.
“We’re a bit too proud of ourselves,” says Hal, describing the general attitude he sees on sites like Facebook.
As he says, everyone seems to think they’re a bit special, refusing to keep quiet about their minor problems or how well they did in a local marathon.
This is arguably a small annoyance but Hal takes aim at much larger targets too.
“The one thing I can’t bear at the moment is the sort of idolatry of people who have just got the guts to say something even when it’s stupid and wrong,” he says, mentioning controversial figures Katie Hopkins and Nigel Farage.
“Anyone who’s an intellectual – and I’m not saying I’m an intellectual at all – is not really respected. But people who have got a big mouth and can just shout loudly and stick to their guns, even when it’s quite obvious that they’re wrong on several points, are somehow admired.”
“The biggest problem in our world is stupid people who don’t realise they’re stupid,” he says, before softening the blow. “If you’re stupid and know you’re stupid...well, I really like those people because I’m a bit thick, me.”
Hal’s not afraid to mock himself while he complains, especially when it comes to the subject of politics.
“I’m just a massive hypocrite,” he laughs. “I kind of, in theory, believe in a world-wide socialist revolution as long as it doesn’t effect house prices or I don’t lose my car.”
And, yes, the middle-class, left-wing Hal feels that ‘champagne socialist’ is an accurate label for himself.
“I’m not ready to put my money where my mouth is, basically, and I think a lot of us are like that.”
What’s very noticeable though, Hal says, is how amazed people on both sides of the political divide are when someone holds an opinion that’s different to theirs.
Right-wingers think lefties are blind for not seeing that ‘political correctness has gone mad’ while left-wingers are flabbergasted by the number of people who keep voting Tory.
“There’s a real lack of imagination when people find it so hard to see what another person’s viewpoint is,” says Hal.
“They kind of hate people for being Tory or for being lefties. I find that so boring. I do talk about political opinions in my show, but I’m very happy to have a UKIP voter in there or a communist voter or, you know, anybody in between. I don’t think I do anything to upset anybody because I do think everybody’s opinion is valid.”
Hal’s also irritated by the moral judgements that get attached to political views.
“I would sit down and have dinner with Nigel Farage,” he says, offering an example. “I think he’s ridiculous and wrong, but I know I wouldn’t be able to out-argue him because he’s a politician who’s a very able man and very good at presenting what he believes in.”
“I don’t think he’s evil,” says Hal. “I think he’s probably quite a nice bloke.”
Hal’s open-minded attitude extends to his stand-up comedy preferences. He likes Bill Hicks, Richard Pryor and Eddie Izzard (a major influence) and is often drawn to comics who aren’t fashionable.
“I’m actually very defensive of someone like Michael McIntyre,” he says. “Because he is technically and performance-wise a great comic and a very funny man. And yet he gets loads of abuse in the comedy world from sort of cool comedy aficionados because they think he’s not cool, because he’s not changing the way people think particularly. But he’s not offensive to me. He’s doing a brilliant job. He’s entertaining people.”
It’s a bit like knowing a trendy band, says Hal. People try to associate with something that makes them feel good about themselves.
‘Cool’ or not, Hal’s stand-up is certainly working. Over the past year he’s made a second appearance on The Royal Variety Performance, hosted Live at the Apollo and was the guest comic in the final of The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice. Visit www.halcruttenden.com to see an impressive list of radio and TV appearances.
But Hal is always working towards his next step – a TV sitcom.
“I’m always chatting to someone about a sitcom because that’s my dream,” he says. “I’ve got a sitcom on the radio (‘Hal’ on BBC Radio 4). I want to get a sitcom onto television and that’s all I’m working towards.”
People can really get into sitcoms, Hal explains, and the good ones, like Friends and The Office, are still funny years later. They’re great to work on as well.
“I just like the whole structure of writing a sitcom,” he says. “I like being in a group. I love having a cast around me and it mixes up my two loves of comedy and acting...and writing. Three loves! Comedy, writing and acting.”
Tickets for Hal’s Horsham gig cost £17 (£16 concessions).
Call 01403 247434 or visit www.christs-hospital.org.uk.
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