We sat down with Alfie Moore, comedian and former Detective Sergeant for an exclusive chat for our NMP Live Meets... series. Alfie discusses how he got into comedy, comedians that inspire him, and the similarities between policing and comedy. Watch the full interview or read the transcript below.
In conversation with Alfie Moore
What was your professional start in life?
I joined the police in 1987. I got no real calling to be a cop to be honest, I’m from a long line of engineers, so, originally, I followed my father; I come from a long line of ‘Alfs’, who are all engineers. I went into engineering, and there was a recession in the 1980s. I joined the police when I was twenty-four – I joined Lincolnshire police and got stationed to Skegness, and I really enjoyed it. I loved it.
How did you move from policing into comedy?
About seven years ago I went to a comedy club. My wife dragged me to a comedy club, and I loved it and I said I’d like to have a go at this. So, I entered a national comedy competition without any experience, competing against some very experienced people. I became one of the runners up in the final, which was a real break, and I thought perhaps I’ve got a natural aptitude towards this.
So I started to do stand-up comedy and open-spots, and then I got offered paid work. It soon became apparent that my style of comedy, my anecdotal story-telling about real cases, really suited the corporate circuit, and I got asked to do paid work at corporates. The corporate arm of what I do has really gone from strength to strength.
Was it a big decision to leave policing behind?
It is a big decision to change career at my time in life, because I’ve got no background in speaking, or writing, or performance. But I got a big break about four years ago – it was an ITV show called ‘Show Me The Funny’, hosted by Jason Manford. It was like an X-Factor for comedians, and I reached the final televised stages of that, which was quite a big break for me that meant I got signed by quite a big management company in London, who wanted to take me on tour and wanted to take me to the Edinburgh Festival. At the same time, I had worked very hard to pass all of my Inspector exams, and they wanted to promote me in the homicide police to Inspector, so I had to go home to my dear wife and say, “Good news – they want to promote me to inspector. Bad news – I have also been offered this role as a comedian, you know, in my forties”, and she said “Do it", bless her, "do it and live the dream!"
What do you talk about in your after-dinner speeches?
I tend to talk about policing; obviously I didn’t police at an executive level, so I don’t talk strategies and policies. I tend to tell hands-on, real-life, everyday stories, about policing a normal town like Scunthorpe. I find that works really well at after-dinner events. They love to hear the real-life stories and for some reason, I’m very fortunate, policing is one of those subjects that people find interesting. You know, it draws people in and they want to know stuff, and that’s great for me.
How true to life are the stories you tell?
Oh, very true to life. I have to change names and places, sometimes I’ll have to change a couple of details, but the real funny stuff is the real-life stuff. I can sit there and write as a comedian, and try and write routines, but the funniest stuff I ever do are the real-life stories that really happen – you just can’t write those.
What type of events best suit your performances?
My niche is not as a comedian when it comes to corporates, in fact, I won’t get booked as a stand-up comedian – very rarely. I get booked as a humorous speaker. The perfect niche for me is if you don’t want a dry keynote-type speaker, because that’s too dry for your event, and you don’t want a stand-up comedian, because you might feel that cheapens your event a little bit and they’re talking about superficial stuff, then I’m the one in-between! I’m the one that’s going to talk about something; I’m going to talk about policing, and of course, I will try and tailor it in to your organization. But I’ll talk about policing in a funny way and tell funny stories. So I’m the one in-between dry and stand-up!
Are there similarities between policing and live comedy?
The most important thing about being a good cop is to make a connection. You will turn up, having been called, at an incident, and usually there is tension by the nature of the fact that you’ve been called. You need to make a connection with people very quickly, or you get smacked a lot, or it goes wrong. It’s exactly the same with a corporate event, or any live performance; the most important time is that first minute, two minutes; that’s all you’ve got really, a small window of opportunity to make a connection with that audience. And it’s exactly the same as policing – make that connection and you’ll succeed. Don’t, and you’ll be grafting for half an hour.
Are there any comedians that inspire you?
There are various comedians that I like, that I try to work towards. I love Lee Mack. I think he is very talented: he has great timing, he’s a great comedian, he’s a great actor, and he’s a very good writer.
I like David Mitchell, who I have to say, without bragging, secretly he is one of my fans, David Mitchell. He and Victoria Coren come and see my Edinburgh show every year, and we go for a drink afterwards. I didn’t know them from Adam and he just introduced me. I was shaking peoples’ hands at my small Edinburgh venue, and I said “I know you” and he said, “yeah, yeah, I’m David”, I said, “you’re David Mitchell, aren’t you?” and he said “yeah… I love your work, I love your show”. Then they really tried to push for me, and in fact David Mitchell two years ago came to see my show and tweeted to his whatever-million followers that it was the funniest thing he had seen in Edinburgh all week. So fabulous! I really like him, and he won’t have it that he’s a stand-up comedian – I keep telling him that he is and he won’t have it, but I think that he is extremely talented and another person that I really admire.
Do you like to dine with guests at corporate dinners?
I would always prefer to dine where I am performing because I will sit there and be able to gauge the room, gauge the people, and I will make friends on that table. So when I do get up, there is one table that are behind me before I have even started.
Personally, and I know that other performers are different, but it doesn’t suit me to walk into a room cold. I think it makes me feel a little bit uneasy; it makes them feel a little bit uneasy. Personally, I would like to get to know them, I would like to dine with them; and after the event, if I am not in a hurry, I like to go to the bar, have a couple of drinks and carry on the evening, really.
It doesn’t suit me to turn up, perform for thirty minutes and walk out. That’s not what it’s about for me, it’s a whole evening.
How would you describe the style of your performance?
I would describe myself as an ‘anecdotist’; I do write jokes, but you don’t really see the jokes, because the jokes are peppered within the story. I would describe myself as having a relaxed avuncular-type style. “Laughing Alfie” my wife calls it… she describes me as “laughing Alfie”. When I kick into laughing Alfie it’s this gentle sort of avuncular-type twinkle in their eye.
I do talk about serious stuff; sometimes I talk about politics, I like to talk about policing, and policies, and what’s happening in the world… but with a twinkle in my eye. I suppose I am never rude, I never swear, it’s not what I do. I do like to walk the line towards, I do have the ‘gallows humour’, that is part of the police culture really; so I’ve come away with just a little bit of darkness with a twinkle in my eye about some of the stuff I say.
If you're interested in booking Alfie Moore, you can enquire online, email us or pick up the phone and speak to one of our friendly booking agents. For further information about Alfie, private performance details, testimonials and video clips, view his profile.