ALASDAIR Beckett-King was walking down the street in Edinburgh when he got the following heckle: “Hey Princess Merida, where’s your bow and arrow?"

“The guy fell back laughing. He really did not look like a man that had seen Pixar’s Brave. He must have had a grandchild or something”, the comedian told The National.

Beckett-King is halfway through his UK Tour and is due to bring his show to The Stand comedy club in Glasgow on May 18.

Although he admits he’s “against heckling in general”, Beckett-King believes Scottish audiences have a tendency to do it well.

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In an exclusive chat with The National, he spoke about the influence of Billy Connolly on his career and what it is that makes audiences in Scotland so unique.

‘There were times he did everything’

Part of what’s so special about Connolly is it seems that every comedian, no matter their style or intended audience, cites the Glaswegian as a source of inspiration.

It’s no different for Beckett-King who says he was aware of the iconic Scots comedian from a young age having tuned into stand-up from around the ages of 11 or 12.

 “I’m not just saying this, I think one of the remarkable things about him is that within his career you can see the development of alternate stand-up styles from different influences whether it’s storytelling or joke-telling.

The National: Alasdair Beckett-King cited Billy Connolly as one of his biggest inspirationsAlasdair Beckett-King cited Billy Connolly as one of his biggest inspirations

“He was musical. He was an actor. I don’t want to exaggerate but there were times it looked like he was inventing the direction comedy would move in on instinct”.

Seeing Connolly led Beckett-King to tell his father his dream was to be a comedian. He explained: “My dad was reasonably quite sceptical. I wasn’t a funny 11-year-old."

Open-mic nights

In spite of that life-long dream it wasn’t until almost 20 years later that he attended an open mic evening.

With comedy on the backburner somewhat, Beckett-King was at the London Film School when he realised it was still something he could pursue.

“I basically forgot about it for years and trying to be funny is so nerve-wracking”, he said.

“I was terrified until my late twenties and, I don’t know if this is a mental or medical thing, but I became less anxious about what people thought about me at that age.

“It was weird because it wasn’t until I moved to London when I met people who weren’t born in England or Scotland and they would tell me I was funny. I hadn’t really had British people say that.”

During his time at film school, the comic noticed people would often laugh at pitches he made for films, albeit while seemingly disinterested in turning the idea into a production.

Rather than rest on his laurels, he decided to cut out the middle man. “I just thought I could do the bit where I talk for five minutes – the cheap bit – where I do things that are amusing.”

His first open mic night came in quite an eventful week for it was the same time his tutors had “panned” his final film submission.

“Even hate would have been better. It would have been some kind of emotion but they were just bored, they couldn’t even be passionate about how bad it was.

“I did an open mic that week and made a small, crowded room laugh and it felt like this is a lot less work than making short films and just massively more rewarding.”

First UK Tour

Unlike many comedians, Beckett-King admits that things got off to a good start. It wasn’t until about 11 or 12 gigs in that he “died” on stage.

He explained: “This won’t just be me, but a lot of comedians have bad first gigs but the bug gets them and they think I have to learn how to do this.

“Some of us have the opposite which is the first goes really well or well based on whatever your expectations were.

“You spend the first 10 gigs thinking you’ve cracked it and that you’re a comedic genius. When I started the gigs were more like community support groups and sometimes the audience left too much or they were overly supportive.”

What was it like then moving from a place of such confidence to feeling like an audience hadn’t quite engaged for the first time?

“I don’t know I’ve never had a bad gig so come and see me at The Stand”, he says, laughing.

“I remember my first death I did a set people had laughed at previously and only a few things had changed.

“When I was in the gents, someone said to me ‘I thought you were the best’. Maybe they were taking the mick and I didn’t know.”

He continued: “You’re just picking up data at random. Jokes work one day and then not the next.

“The tour so far has been lovely though. It’s a modest tour, a toe in the water to see if this is something I could do sustainably because I would love to do it.

“I don’t think it’s gone bad yet but if you’ve seen it and think that then please do email me. It is weird seeing an audience come to see me rather than one just already there in the building."

The best hecklers

Being called out for looking like Merida in the middle of the capital is a standout heckle for Beckett-King.

In fact when it comes to heckling in general, he thinks Scots are better than anybody else, namely because of timing.

He explained: “I think it’s something cultural. An audience member in Scotland is more likely to wait till they’ve got something really good to say before interrupting the show.

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“There’s a cost to heckling so it needs to be good to be worth getting involved in the show. If someone does yell something out there’s a better chance it’ll get a laugh.”

He’ll be hoping for a few laughs himself when he takes to the stage for his sold-out show at The Stand this week.

Beckett-King is due to perform at The Stand in Edinburgh on May 17 and in Glasgow on May 18.