Interview with comedian and animator Alasdair Beckett-King

"I'm not convinced that 'cancel culture' is sufficiently coherent a concept that an exemption from it could reasonably be sought."

Interview with comedian and animator Alasdair Beckett-King

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

I’m a fairly tall IC1 male from the north east of England. Readers might recognise me from medieval illuminations, humorous internet videos, and possibly from a few spots on BBC2’s Mock the Week. They probably won’t recognise me, but they might.

How would you describe your show?

You know when the King is eating meat from the bone, and he throws the bones over his shoulder to a pack of slavering hounds, wiping grease from his face with a brocaded sleeve? Well, you know how there's also a merrie fool tumbling and jesting before the fire, halting his whimsical horseplay only to show kindness to a needy orphan? Well that's me, I'm the fool.

Why do you want to perform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

Every year, comedians tell themselves they aren't going to put themselves through the mental and physical strain of an Edinburgh Fringe run. But, like a retired safecracker who's out of the game, the temptation of one last heist is often too much. In truth, I didn't go to Edinburgh in 2020 or 2021, and I missed it.

What differentiates it from other festivals?

It goes on a lot longer. Many cities are satisfied with two or three shows per comedian. But the dark powers in Edinburgh's dormant volcano demand more, which is why the Fringe regularly lasts four or five hundred years.

What first motivated you to enter the industry? Who were your inspirations?

I got into comedy because I wanted to be like Terry Gilliam, a goal which Gilliam makes more embarrassing with every passing day. I was graduating from film school when I started gigging. I wanted to be the weird guy who does the animation for some hugely successful TV show and then gets to make crazy films. And never has to worry about money but - somehow - still finds time to moan about how hard done by he is.

How has your background, upbringing and education had an impact on your artistic career?

I feel very lucky to have studied film and got out of it with a lot less debt than younger people will be saddled with. My filmmaking skills might be unremarkable when compared with my award-winning filmmaker peers, in the same way that Superman is nothing special on planet Krypton. But among comedians, under the yellow sun of comedy, I'm pretty good with a camera and that turned out to be pretty handy during lockdown.

What is your earliest childhood art memory?

I remember trying to describe an art style, which I now know to be German expressionism, to my mum. As a kid I called it, "the one where the doors are wonky."

If you didn’t have your current job, what would you probably be doing?

I would probably be a hot-shot DA, keeping the streets clean one punk at a time. (And scrupulously avoiding prosecuting white-collar crime, for some reason.)

Did Covid-19 change the way you create work? Do you approach shows with a different mentality now?

Yes, I decided it was time to stop getting the Megabus.

Describe the last year in 5 words or less?

They just kept voting Tory.

Do you subscribe to the idea that art should be exempt from ‘cancel culture’?

For me, this is like asking if comedy shows should be protected from marauding werewolves. I'm not convinced that 'cancel culture' is sufficiently coherent a concept that an exemption from it could reasonably be sought. Should artists be given plenty of leeway when it comes to offence? Certainly. Should we indulge the millionaire crybabies who expect to be treated as God-kings, exempt from criticism? I humbly submit that we should not.

If you could work with anybody, from any point in history, who would you pick and why?

Any of the Pre-Raphaelites. I think I would have had a shot at being Rossetti’s muse.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to take a show up to the fringe?

A gif of Admiral Ackbar saying, "It's a trap!"

When and where can people see your show?

Throughout the fringe at 7pm at the Pleasance’s Jack Dome.

And where can people find, follow and like you online?

@MisterABK on Twitter and youtube.com/c/abeckettking


Alasdair Beckett-King: Nevermore, Pleasance Dome (JackDome), 7pm, 3-29 August (not 22)

Booking Link: https://www.pleasance.co.uk/event/alasdair-beckett-king-nevermore-0#overview

Header Image Credit: Edward Moore

Author

Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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