Comic Hal Cruttenden talks Belfast, Bake Off and Michael McIntyre
London comic Hal Cruttenden has appeared on a host of TV shows, including Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice. He talks to Brian Campbell about his new DVD, his Derry wife and Eddie Izzard
DON’T compare Hal Cruttenden to Michael McIntyre.
Cruttenden’s new live DVD is called Tough Luvvie and the cheerful London comic tries (but fails) to get all `tough guy’ when I ask if he’s a fan of McIntyre.
“I am a fan of his but I get angry when I get compared to him. I’m not really that like him. I am round-faced and jolly, but I’m a LOT bitchier,” he says.
“I’m more political and less purely observational. There’s no-one better than him at picking apart something really simple. People underestimate his talent. But I’m more twisted than him.”
Cruttenden’s winning brand of comedy has seen him applauded for providing “the antidote to laddish swagger” on the circuit. Fans of The Great British Bake-Off will have enjoyed his witty contributions a couple of months ago to the show’s companion programme An Extra Slice, on which he admitted he had a bit of a thing for contestant Ugne Bubnaityte.
“The make-up woman said to me at one point, `Ugne looks like your wife’. And she does. But my wife’s not a body-builder. There’s probably something wrong with fancying someone who looks like your wife,” he laughs.
In Tough Luvvie, Cruttenden makes several jokes about his wife Dawn – who is from Derry.
“I’m trying to cut down the amount of stuff about her. I’m terrible to her, because I do make her out to be this marching Northern Irish Protestant nightmare. She keeps telling me my accent is terrible and I know it is.
“She was chatting to another mum at our daughter’s school recently and it turned out that the mum was a bit frightened of her before she met her because of my material on her. I felt bad about that.
“But the best place for those jokes is Belfast. I always have such a good time there. I say all the things that you shouldn’t be saying. I’m over in Ireland a few times a year.”
Cruttenden and his wife have two teenage daughters and in his DVD he reveals that his kids often jokingly ask him, `Are you gay?’
“Oh, that’s constant,” he says. “The other week I sat down in front of the TV with our youngest daughter Grace. We were having pizza and we were about to watch TV and she turned to me and said, `I love a girls’ night in’. It gets worse and worse.”
The comic admits that he worried about not being `laddish’ enough when he first got into stand-up.
“Eddie Izzard was actually a real inspiration to me. I watched his DVDs and thought he was so middle-class, so camp and he wears nail varnish and make-up on and didn’t apologise for it, so I thought you didn’t have to be a tough laddy bloke to do stand-up.”
He jokes that comedy is great because he gets paid for talking about his issues in public and so doesn’t have to go into therapy.
“You never have enough jokes, so you’re always looking to write new stuff. It sort of drives you mad,” he says.
“I’ve got loads of bits of ideas on my phone. Being a comic does make you a bit of a nightmare socially.
"You’re at a dinner party and someone says something and you say something back and you go `Oh, that’s good’ and you put it in your phone; it’s awful.”
And will he play a Belfast or Derry gig as part of his new `Straight Outta Cruttenden’ tour next year?
“Hopefully. But I tend to keep quiet about it because all of my wife’s family will turn up."
:: Tough Luvvie is out now on DVD and digital download (www.halcruttenden.com).