From Stand-Up Comedy to Speaking | A Q&A with Alistair McGowan

Alistair McGowan 1 January 2012

If you could speak at any event, past or future, what would it be?

I’ve no idea. It’s often the ones you’re least looking forward to that are the most enjoyable. The recent Rotary UK conference in Bournemouth looked awful on paper and worse when I saw a half-full room in Bournemouth International Centre on a Sunday lunchtime - and an audience full of people aged 60 and above. It was one of the best gigs I’ve ever done anywhere!

How did the corporate speaking begin?

It was a natural progression from stand-up comedy which I had been doing on the London circuit since 1989: The Comedy Store, Jongleurs etc.

Can you remember your first speaking engagement?

I can’t remember my first but I remember an early one for Arsenal F.C. just after I’d started. They had won the F.A. Cup and the League Cup in 1993 and I spoke to the players at the Park Lane Hotel. They were notorious for having an impermeable defence. Well, I certainly couldn’t get past them that night. Or their midfield. Or their attack. The only man who found me funny that night was Ian Wright. I wrote a chapter about it in my book ‘How To Wean A Man Off Football.’

And your last event?

At the Newcastle Gateshead Hilton for the Entrepreneur’s Forum. I was a last-minute replacement for John Bishop. I impersonated him for the first time along with a host of other comedians. I think they got value for money!

Which event has been your favourite and why?

I used to speak for a lot of football clubs’ annual dinners: Arsenal, Nottingham Forest, Manchester City, Chelsea and eventually – my boyhood favourites – Leeds United. It was a special feeling going to Elland Road and being paid to perform and clapped by the players. Also, speaking at the PFA dinner in 1995 was a special event. I was seated next to Ian Rush and Pele.

Who would you most like to share a platform with?

Emily Maitliss.

How do you like to be introduced?

With as few credits as possible and ending with my name. Usually something like: ‘he’s sure to make a big impression on you, please welcome the one and many, Alistair McGowan.’ When they make a mess of it – as they often do – it does give you something to play with though.

Your favourite film?

Twelve Angry Men, maybe.

Favourite book?

Probably Therese Raquin.

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