When Northern Soul puts it to Alasdair Beckett-King that he doesn’t seem to be a man who likes being bored, he laughs and replies, “I wonder what you mean by that?”

Well, let’s look at the evidence. Aside from his increasing popularity as a stand-up comedian, with TV and radio appearances plus a number of awards to his name, he’s also busy with a whole variety of side hustles, taking in animation, social media, podcasting and children’s books. He’s even written several videos games.

“There’s an old Mark Twain quote, riffing on putting your eggs in one basket,” Beckett-King says. “People say ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ and Twain said ‘no, put all your eggs in the one basket, and watch that basket’ – like, don’t get distracted. I always worry about that, because I’ve always been distracted.”

Inevitably, though, the main focus of Beckett-King’s attention just now is the national tour of his new show Nevermore, which is coming to Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle this month. The more literary-minded may be expecting the show to feature a raven, but it doesn’t. At least, not any more.

“In fact, the raven was Mancunian,” he explains. ”It was sort of my dad – he’s from Gorton. I never know how to do crowd work, so I thought what I’d do is get a puppet of a raven, with a Mancunian accent, who could do knock-knock jokes and ‘where’re you from?’ and ‘oh, your shirt’s rubbish’ – all that sort of crowd banter that I don’t do. But what I discovered is, you actually need to warm a crowd up quite a lot before you bring out a puppet of a raven with a Mancunian accent. The one role that it had in the show was softening the crowd up but it actually had the opposite effect. So the puppet fell to pieces and is no longer in the show, but luckily, from the ashes of that puppet emerged, I think, quite a funny show.”

Pinpointing exactly what the show’s about – indeed, what ABK’s comedy does as a whole – is tricky, and ultimately not really the point anyway.

“I think what I do is observational comedy, but you might call it whimsy. Some people say surreal. I don’t know. I think it’s observational comedy, but I might have noticed different things to you. If the show has a theme, it’s that I am afraid of and don’t like the sea. Comedians these days, they’re afraid of getting cancelled. I’m not like that. I’ll go out there and tell it how it is. I don’t really like the sea, it’s too cold. If that’s a crime, arrest me, basically.”

Alasdair Beckett-King. Photo by Edward Moore.

It’s notable, though, that the venues ABK is playing with Nevermore are often larger than those he played on his 2023 Interdimensional ABK tour. So whatever we might call what it is that he does, it’s clearly working. Doubtless, some of his burgeoning fan-base will have discovered him through his online videos. He’s far from alone in posting short, funny videos to social media, but as well as being funny, he stands out by having the most handsome mini-films imaginable, boasting actual production values.

“Yeah,” he laughs, “a huge, huge error when everyone else is out there getting loads more views just filming themselves against a wall. To be clear. I’m not spending any money on them. What I’m spending is time. Occasionally I worry that people think I’ve got a whole production team of badly-paid interns doing them, but it’s just my time I’m wasting.”

In some ways, Durham-born Beckett-King’s knack with a camera harks back to yet another stray career path: his years spent as a student of London Film School.

“I tried to be a serious film maker,” he says. “I wanted to be the Orson Welles of my generation. I didn’t manage that. I’ve got the ego. I didn’t actually achieve any of the goals that Orson Welles did, but I did learn how to do loads of stuff. Also, I always think that putting way too much effort into something makes it funnier. Committing too much and trying to over-deliver in some way – it just appeals to me.”

One of ABK’s YouTube videos, with more than a million views and counting, is titled Every Edgy Millionaire Comedian, starring one ‘Buddy Nutzack’, an American stand-up committed to speaking the truth and, um, talking about his ass getting stuck in a trash can. It’s keenly observed, but it also speaks volumes about Beckett-King’s own approach to comedy. Generating outrage and punching down just aren’t his style. Still, it’s fair to say that his philosophy is more considered and nuanced than most.

“We often say that punching down isn’t funny, bullying isn’t funny and all of the isms aren’t funny, but the reality is that bullying is funny. That’s why people are laughing when it happens. We’re not being honest if we say racist jokes aren’t funny. In that case, how did all these racist comedians have a career making people laugh with racist jokes? It would be more honest to say the reason you shouldn’t do racist jokes is that they’re racist, not because they’re not funny. By the same token, ‘but it’s funny’ isn’t a defence against the criticism that it’s racist. I mean, I’ve offended people, I’ve done vaguely wanky atheist jokes and I’ve got emails from people saying ‘you shouldn’t have said that, it offended me’. And I can’t really defend that. That’s my opinion, but I’m sorry I upset you. I didn’t set out to offend you. That’s not part of the fun of it for me.”

Not entirely unconnectedly, ABK, along with fellow comedian James Shakeshaft, hosts the popular Loremen podcast, unearthing all manner of weird British myths and legends. Spooky podcasts might be all the rage just now, but Loremen places the emphasis firmly on fun – though some of its stories veer between the two approaches.

“With a lot of comedy and horror, it could go either way – grotesquerie and absurdity, even things like scale, things shrinking and growing, the human body, death and distortion – all of these things are tools that comedy and horror both use. I don’t know if you get to decide whether your reaction is urghh or hahaha, but it could be either. With the Loremen podcast, we’re not trying to scare people, but I love it when we do occasional run across something which is genuinely inexplicable and scary, because I’m a really annoying sceptic.”

Book, books, books…

Catering to a different crowd entirely. Beckett-King has also become the author of the Montgomery Bonbon book series, offering up a series of light-hearted murder-mystery tales for young readers (book three, Mystery at the Manor, will be hitting shops this July).

“Writing a book, it’s easy. You just sit at a typewriter like Jack Kerouac. You don’t have to try. You just have whatever he had, a couple of Ribenas, and you let it all come out, “ he laughs.

“Yeah – no, I find writing incredibly hard. It’s so difficult, it’s so slow. I really have to just pull words out. Luckily, children’s books are quite short.”

Alasdair Beckett-King. Photo by Edward Moore.

All of this career variety, though, are there things that Beckett-King prefers doing for a living, or is the point that he doesn’t want to feel hemmed in?

“I don’t need to be the centre of attention all the time,” he says. “I don’t have to have everyone looking at me. It is just a practical necessity for stand-up that everyone is looking and listening, and I really enjoy it when it happens. But I am equally happy just writing and creating things and having people see them remote remotely and distantly. When you’re younger, I think you feel like you’ve got to keep all these things that you’re interested in separate: ‘these are all separate aspects of my personality and I’ll keep them in separate tracks’. It was only as I got older that I realised actually there’s lots of cross fertilisation between different fields.”

As for his Nevermore show, though, what would he like audiences to get out of it?

“Hopefully, they’ll find it funny. There really are jokes. I know when I bang on about whimsy and how much I don’t like the sea, sometimes it doesn’t sound like there are jokes, but there are. I worked quite hard on them. I’m confident that it’s funny. But I want it to be an uplifting show.

“When you’re halfway through a show you’re sort of like, ‘What’s it about? What does it mean? What am I saying about the world?’ And you look at the news and it’s so miserable. I respect anybody who regularly does topical comedy because I think it’s so hard to be funny and incisive at the same time about serious stuff. But I wanted to do a show where the audience has a lot of fun and which feels uplifting. I’m not going to try and make people cry halfway through. I’ll express my opinions, I might make the occasional political snipe or remark. There’s a conscience to it. But I want people to have a laugh. I want it to be fun and uplifting. It’s just jokes, I’m telling you. It’s just a man being silly for a bit more than an hour. That’s all it is.”

By Andy Murray

Photos, including main image, by Edward Moore


Alasdair Beckett-King’s national Nevermore tour reaches Leeds (April 19), Liverpool (April 20), Manchester (April 21), Newcastle (April 27), and many more dates besides. For more information, follow this link: https://www.mickperrin.com/tours/alasdair-beckett-king-nevermore/

www.abeckettking.com ; www.youtube.com/channel/UCq5btGtqdn4CpvU0xTXaelA