Tom Craine interview

Tom Craine.Tom Craine is an award-winning comedian, writer, and one third of the critically-acclaimed sketch group Jigsaw (who are back on Radio 4 soon).

Earlier this year, Tom found himself with time to clarify his ideas on relationships, and the result is his show Thoughts On Love (By A Man With None Of The Answers).

Hi Tom. The title of your show sounds interesting...

I was held as a potential terrorist at Belfast Airport - it was a pivotal moment in my year, and caused me to reflect on my life. My last Fringe show was essentially about the breakup of my relationship, and this show looks at the cultural panic that exists around being single today.

Since the breakup I have been given a column in Cosmopolitan magazine where I write about my dating life ['Sex and the Single Guy']. I won't say I'm an expert in any way, but I've been getting lots of letters from people who are reading this column and are fuelled by this panic of being alone.

So the show is about that and how it's coupled with my emotions over the last year, with me then ending up in Belfast Airport and reappraising everything. It's about that crucial day where my year turned upside down.

The people writing letters to you... are they male or female?

They're mainly female. It's interesting really because I haven't signed up to be an agony aunt. I'm not the sort of person that I feel should be giving out life advice!

The idea that I should be in any position to give advice... Some of my dates have been a disastrous! It's weird being in this position of assumed wisdom when I don't really have any; and it's weird trying to give people answers when you don't really have them for yourself.

There is this idea that, in these modern times, with internet dating and all these things, it's never been easier to be single and meet people... but what I'm seeing is people are finding it quite pressured, with a lot of competition. These things really aren't all that healthy and they make you doubt yourself. Getting all these messages and concerns and not knowing what to say and feeling quite guilty about that features in my show.

Dating is certainly an interesting topic.

It's interesting quite how obsessed we are with dating in this county, in a way I hadn't been aware until I started doing this. It's just everywhere: on TV, on magazines - you can't move without meeting this idea that you have to be with someone; that you have to be in a relationship.

Tom Craine.As you get older, the pressure to be in a relationship grows, and people find it quite difficult to be single as you get older. People also seem obliged to date, because 'that's what everyone does'. Dating for the sake of dating, without actually stopping to think...

So, since you started writing this column, have you had any letters asking you out on a date?

It's nice that people seem to feel the way I feel and have the concerns that I have.

I have had a couple of offers... but I think that's to do with the Photoshop work on my photos in the magazine. You're far more attractive when they put four cameras on you and smother you in makeup!

Someone sent me a lasagne with my face made out of olives on top. I must admit, I didn't eat it. I didn't really feel comfortable about eating my own face!

But, yes, I have - through some kind of miracle - been asked out, but I've felt a bit weird and, at this point, I haven't done that [gone on a date with a reader].

The dates you have been on... presumably they're potential events during which you can gather comedy material for your act. Do you let on you might use the date in your act?

Part of the thing with stand-up is you have to write down funny things that happen as they come along, otherwise you forget them... so I went on a date quite recently and I had to write it down on my phone in front of her!

But, if I do talk about someone on stage, I'll change the name and am never cruel. I'm the dickhead in the middle of the story. I went on a date a while ago where the girl got so bored she changed her ringtone, so that was a time that I scribbled something down.

The column is called 'Sex and the Single Guy'. If you do get a girlfriend will that be a double-edged sword, because you'll lose the column?

Oh, I'm not sure. I don't know. We'll have to see if that happens! I think being in a relationship would change the nature of it... it would be weird if I kept going on dates. I'd have to have quite an understanding girlfriend to go 'no that's absolutely fine, put the column first and let yourself in when you come in at 2 in the morning'.

Maybe I could write a column about relationships and the pressure I feel then. And, when that inevitably ends, I can go back to my original column!

Josh. Image shows from L to R: Kate (Beattie Edmondson), Owen (Elis James), Josh (Josh Widdicombe). Copyright: BBC.Ha ha. Can we talk about Josh, the sitcom you've co-written with Josh Widdicombe? We loved the pilot!

Thank you. That's very kind. We've had very nice feedback. People really seem to have enjoyed it. It's such a panic thing. You work on this thing and you put it out there and you don't know how it'll be received. It means an awful lot when people like it because it means it's been worth it - it's a long old process getting a sitcom together.

It's been a dream of mine to create a sitcom; it's really been an absolute dream for years, like ever since I started [in comedy]. I never thought it would happen, but it has.

Any news on whether it'll become a series?

We'll have to wait and see but yeah we're excited about the idea of doing more, should it go anywhere.

I like the fact it's quite stripped down and it's very much just about the characters. We feel we know who they are, so it's a nice idea to put them in a situation and see how they react.

It's something we would very much enjoy continuing to write for. I absolutely loved writing the pilot - it went through a lot of incarnations, but it was some of the most fun I've ever had, so hopefully it goes further and we'll have more joy to come.

Despite being an actor, you don't actually appear in the pilot?

I think if it goes to series then I probably will pop up in it then. An early script had a character in there, but it wasn't really helping the storyline so we stripped him out. You have to kill your babies for want of a better phrase... to not to be too precious about it, and do what's best for the script.

But, yes, if it goes to series then I might pop up in it then, so fingers crossed on that. I'll probably play a lonely single man!

'Tom Craine: Thoughts On Love (By a Man With None of the Answers)' is at the Pleasance Courtyard until 25th August. Listing

Josh can currently been seen on iPlayer and will be broadcast on BBC Three on Friday 29th August at 11pm.

Series 2 of Jigsaw starts on Radio 4 on Wednesday 27th August at 11pm.


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