Absolute joker: Christian O'Connell warms up for Edinburgh Fringe with Kingston gig

Christian O'Connell returns to the Fighting Cocks on Monday

Christian O'Connell returns to the Fighting Cocks on Monday

First published in News
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This Is Local London: Photograph of the Author by , Deputy editor

The canteen on the first floor of Quadrant House in Sutton, where the Surrey Comet is now based, is famous for several things.

The food is surprisingly and consistently excellent, and there is no greater sandwich maker in Britain than the gentleman known fondly – and unimaginatively – as "sandwich man".

It is also the place where Christian O'Connell, Absolute Radio's long-serving breakfast show host, played one of his more unlikely stand up gigs.

“It was the weirdest gig I've ever done,” says O'Connell. “It was during the day. I was standing there telling jokes and people were coming in and queuing up to get their spuds and chilli con carne.

“I have to say though, the food did look pretty good.”

O’Connell will find himself in more familiar surroundings when he returns to the Fighting Cocks in Kingston on Monday for his last warm-up set before taking his new show, Breaking Dad, to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

His gig will conclude Outside the Box's mini festival of Edinburgh preview shows, which have been taking place across Kingston and Elmbridge for the past month.

“I must have done about 30 or 40 gigs there,” says O'Connell on playing the Old London Road pub.

“Robin Williams and Billy Connelly have played there – all these brilliant comedians in a tiny back room of a pub.

“But that’s how stand up comedy should be done.”

The fact O’Connell actually does stand up still comes as a surprise to some.

While the comedy circuit often works as a gateway to other platforms such as radio and television, the 41-year-old has gone the other way about it – using radio to break into comedy.

“I tried doing stand up before I got into radio," he says. "I did my first gig when I was 18, but when radio came along I just thought I didn't need to worry about stand up any more and knocked it on the head.

“But I always wondered what if.

“Then Maff [Brown, comedian and Outside the Box founder] told me about this friendly comedy night he ran and said that I should give it a go.

“After 16 years of breakfast radio I thought I wanted to go back. And Maff said: “You should definitely go back”."

Breaking Dad – which deals with his struggles raising two daughters – is O’Connell’s second Edinburgh show following his debut last year with This Is 13.

“It's really nice to do different things that can be a bit of a struggle,” says O'Connell on his fledgling stand up career.

“I've got no idea what I’m going to do long term, but for now I’ve got Edinburgh. I’m having feelings of nervousness, but I'm also very excited.”

Christian O'Connell, Fighting Cocks, Old London Road, Kingston, Monday, July 28, 7.45pm, £10; for tickets visit outsidetheboxcomedy.co.uk

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