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Laughing Bishops Comedy Club: Terry Alderton, the comedian who has crafted his own pigeonhole

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Fans of Terry Alderton know what to expect from a stand-up gig by the Essex comedian – but those who haven't seen him were told this week to "hold on to their hats".

The 50-year-old, known for creating bedlam on stage, is appearing at Laughing Bishops Comedy Club in Bishop's Stortford on Saturday (October 9) and he told the Indie he can't wait to get in front of an audience.

"Lockdown was a big push for me," said Terry. "With it being taken away, maybe it's a case of 'be careful what you wish for'."

Comedian Terry Alderton
Comedian Terry Alderton

Unlike other artists, the enforced rest did little for Terry's creative juices as he said working helps him to come up with new material for his act. That's not to say the audience on Saturday will be short-changed, as much of his act is ad-libbed.

"I've got so much to choose from," he said. "It will be a mixture of old and new."

If you were asked to describe Terry's routine you'd be stumped. When I suggested his strength was he couldn't be pigeonholed he agreed, saying he didn't want to be like anyone else. "I wanted to make my own pigeonhole," he said.

Terry Alderton headlines Laughing Bishops Comedy Club this Saturday
Terry Alderton headlines Laughing Bishops Comedy Club this Saturday

Part of the stand-up routine involves Terry taking to the side of the stage and having a conversation with an alter ego, who, like a demon on his shoulder, bemoans the fact the gig is not going well.

That section of the show emerged after a difficult gig in Dubai when he did what transpired to be a risky routine about the call for prayer and, in his words, the audience "lost their s***".

"The next night I went out and it wasn't going well, so I turned it round by talking to them."

Then in 2006 his Edinburgh Festival Fringe show "Divinely Discontented" saw him do battle with those inner demons, to much acclaim.

His popular 'shoe puppet' routine also came about by accident when he was on stage at a comedy festival in New Zealand.

The previous act, Sam Wills, aka America's Got Talent finalist The Boy With Tape On His Face, left some tape on the floor and it stuck to Terry's shoe. "I brought my leg up and the other shoe said 'What are you doing?'", said Terry – and a routine was born.

Terry has spoken at length about mental health issues, but told the Indie those days are over, due to the likes of reality TV stars getting on the bandwagon. "I've been banging on about it for donkeys but it's been hijacked," he said.

Terry Alderton as Charlie in London's Burning with Sam Callis, left, and Glen Murphy
Terry Alderton as Charlie in London's Burning with Sam Callis, left, and Glen Murphy

Although he's been a stand-up for 32 years, having performed his first gig at the age of 18 at Cliffs Pavilion in Westcliff, just down the road from his Rochford home, he's not afraid of diversifying.

After a role in long-running ITV drama series London's Burning he found himself playing cheeky cabbie Terry Spraggan in BBC soap EastEnders.

Terry Alderton as Terry Spraggan with Patsy Palmer as Bianca Butcher and Michael French as David Wicks in EastEnders in November 2013
Terry Alderton as Terry Spraggan with Patsy Palmer as Bianca Butcher and Michael French as David Wicks in EastEnders in November 2013

"I didn't want to do it, but my wife said I'd be a fool not to," said Terry, who played Bianca Jackson's husband.

Although initially reluctant to take the part, when Bianca actress Patsy Palmer decided to relocate to the USA he was sad to be written out.

"I was wary about it at the start, but it was great fun – I really enjoyed myself."

He just missed bumping into Danny Dyer on set as he left a month before the abrasive Cockney actor joined the cast, which if you read the tabloids was a good thing.

An up-and-down relationship seems to have ensued, especially after Terry "took the p*** out of him" at a gig and his Virgin Media videos lampooning Dyer with his Danny Dire character didn't help. But an article in The Sun which claimed the two had been involved in a punch-up was "pure fiction", he said.

Eagle-eyed TV viewers could see the comedian in the fourth series of award-winning ITV crime drama Unforgotten earlier this year, again playing a character called Terry.

"I'm a massive Tony Hancock fan and I love the fact there was Sid [Sid James] and Tony in his sketches," explained Terry.

Although gig-goers are taken on a wild ride, with Terry often interacting with audience members, those in the front row at Laughing Bishops on Saturday will be glad to hear he doesn't make people feel uncomfortable.

"I don't pick on people... I don't make people feel bad about themselves," he said.

He admits he's not everybody's cup of tea. There's the story of the man who walked out on his act when he came on stage at the Comedy Store, only to be confronted with Terry the next time he went to the venue. The man caught up with Terry at another gig to say after seeing him at a third gig he "got it".

Terry is not buying that. "I'm very good, but you might not like what I do," he said. "There's nothing to get – you're looking for something that's not there."

* Terry Alderton will be at Laughing Bishops at the United Reformed Church hall in Water Lane on Saturday (Oct 9), along with compere, club founder and Stortford resident Paddy Lennox and support acts Suzy Bennett and Andrew White. There is a bar and a choice of food: chilli con carne with nachos and fresh guacamole (vegetarian option available) or bangers and mash (courtesy of The Secret Sausage Shop). Doors open at 7.30pm, the show starts at 8.30pm and ends at 10.45pm. Tickets priced £15 can be bought from paddylennox.com.

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