‘Find a moment of enjoyment’: The Mash Report’s Steve Allen on comedy and the news
- Credit: Danielle Jalowiecka
He will be a familiar face to many already from the BBC’s The Mash Report, but Hackney’s own Steve Allen has joined the Gazette to write a regular column. Holly Chant meets the man from The Mash.
Comedian Steve Allen has made a career out of making fun of the news. His satirical take on current events has landed him in some heated discussions over hot topics but his own comedic philosophy always has him looking for common ground.
Steve says he loves all the different forms of communication he gets to work in and hopes his style of comedy gets people talking without too much shouting or falling out.
He told the Gazette: "There's something nice about being able to find a moment of enjoyment whether it's making someone smile 'cause they've read something or doing a joke and seeing the whole audience laugh.
"I think you've added, in a really small way, to the sum total of what's good in the world."
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Steve stars in the BBC 2's satirical comedy The Mash Report and is a host on BBC radio Kent. He regularly has guest spots across the airwaves, writes columns in various papers and has been recording a new BBC podcast. He has also recently moved to Hackney and is loving it.
"I embrace both sides of it. I really like the old side but also find it amusing that it's not too difficult to find a vegan place that will charge you 17 quid for a salad. I don't go there very often because of the price but it's quite entertaining."
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Having once worked in commercial radio when all that was happening in the UK was "basically music-based stuff" he got out before stations networked and closed down.
"It felt a bit like being a polar bear on one of those icebergs. I think every commercial radio station I've worked at has now been closed - which is hopefully less to do with me than it is to do with the industry," he said. "But yeah, radio now is doing more speech-based stuff and that's what I enjoy talking about - the news."
He says this may be to some degree down to Brexit.
"It made people interested and half of that has turned into anger and shouting but at least it's interest whereas for a good long while people have just been apathetic about news thinking this stuff is just happening to us. I just wish the discourse could be a bit more polite," he said.
The comedian and radio presenter thinks people can, within a sentence, stop arguing the point and start arguing the person so whenever there's a news story that has two angry sides in disagreement he loves to find a sentence which both parties hold to be true.
"I'm probably not gifted with the ability to invent a cure for something or negotiate peace or make a big difference, but it shouldn't stop us making small differences," said Steve.
He remembers 'being obsessed with comedy' as a kid, recording late night comedy shows, but his first experience with an audience was later at an open-mic in 2003. It took Steve six months watching other people before he was brave enough to give stand-up a go.
"I was so nervous that when I got off stage my lungs were burning cause I hadn't relaxed enough to breath out fully - so it was absolutely terrifying and probably not funny," he said, adding that his career has often been about facing his fears.
"That's kind of the point of it I suppose. It's the same reason people go to new Zealand and jump off a bridge attached to elastic. There's something to be gained in facing your fear and I get to do it without the risk of head trauma.
"It's not a bad way of doing it."