ALUN Cochrane's son is his biggest critic.

Who needs to worry about scathing reviews when your nearest and dearest ranks you below the dog – and the rest of the family for that matter – in terms of comedy appeal?

Alun told Weekend: "We were on our way to school and he said he was going to put the family into ‘an order’. I came last and the dog came top.

"You just can’t win. How can you keep your ego up when you’ve got that? I wouldn’t mind but even his school shoes that day were bought by me being funny."

Ironically enough, that conversation is now part of Alun's stand-up routine which enjoyed a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Festival.

"This is one of the joys of being a stand-up – nothing's wasted," added the 40-year-old.

"Frank Skinner always says it's like being a Chinese chef – everything goes in.

"I think comedy is tragedy plus time and that little split second of being voted the least funny member of the family was a pretty tragic moment for a person who considers himself funny.

"Basically you store up the agony and you retell it for people’s amusement and entertainment."

He will be doing just that in Warrington on March 19 with a show at the Pyramid. The routine's loose theme is confidence.

So does that mean Alun has become a self help guru?

"I would love that," said the BBC Radio 4 regular.

"Given that I’m a grouchy, somewhat grumpy comic, I would love to have a show that embraced self help.

"I find that people are so knee jerk about self help books and the self help culture.

"But, as far as I can make out, it’s a good thing because people forget what they should actually know.

"And the entire multimillion pound self help industry is just saying: ‘Do you remember when you used to think this was a good idea?’

"Being a road user is a classic example. I do so miles as a comic and I’ve been teaching my kids ‘stop, look and listen’ and then you see adults with their iPods on just walking out into the middle of the road.

"I know this sounds like I’m really square but there are some things which are good to be square about."

A familiar face from the TV, Alun has appeared on all the main panel shows including Never Mind The Buzzcocks, Have I Got News For You, 8 Out Of 10 Cats and Mock The Week.

But he admitted seven comedians in a room trying to outwit each other was not his idea of a good time.

"I don't mind comedy that is a bit bloodthirsty," added Alun, a presenter on Frank Skinner's Absolute Radio show.

"I quite like it if it is a bit gladiatorial at a gig but I find some of panel shows quite boring to do.

"Participating in it is quite stressful and it really needn’t be because there are seven funny people in a room.

"Why not just relax and have a laugh? I’m not criticising the other comics. I just think the way it is made is just a bit unnecessarily competitive.

"I don’t mind a bit of banter and back and forth. I do Frank Skinner’s radio show on Saturday and we all tease each other but there is just a different sensibility and it feels like everyone has a right to be funny on that."

So what is Frank like to work with?

Alun said: "He’s unbelievably funny so it’s quite good to be doing that rather than some spit and sawdust comedy club where I’m the funniest person on the bill.

"I’d much rather work with Frank who almost every week beats me to a joke that I’d just thought of and he’s already got to."

As a youngster, Alun told jokes as a way to fit in at school.

He added: "I moved around schools a lot and I quickly realised that if you are funny in a new school people think you’re alright."

Then he ended up driving careers advisors around the bend.

Alun, who has appeared in Trying Again and Not Going Out, said: "It just seemed to me like a great way to make a living. I remember thinking jobs look really hard – except for stand-up.

"They just talk for a bit and everyone laughs. It looks fantastically easy compared to all these other jobs that people keep talking about. I’m still to be convinced otherwise."

Alun was inspired by Billy Connolly, Jerry Seinfeld, Laurel and Hardy and Morecambe and Wise and he recently got to share a stage with another of his heroes, Jasper Carrott.

He added: "I did a gig with him last year where he was trying out 10 minutes of new material in Birmingham and I got there and they said: 'Jasper Carrott’s on before you'.

"I thought they were kidding. He often gets forgotten in these conversations. He was one of the first guys who went on TV in jeans and a tracksuit top and just talked about stuff that he thought was funny.

"Whereas all the rest of them would have been guys in velvet jackets and dickie bows saying: ‘My wife, she’s so fat...’

"In a way he was a quiet revolutionary."

Alun's first experience up on stage was for a review show at school when he was 11.

He said: "I remember I did impressions of Frank Spencer, David Bellamy and Jimmy Cricket and I got all the voices muddled up at the end on purpose when I was saying good night.

"It went really well and then I was on holiday at this campsite and – this makes me sound horrible and precocious – but I remember seeing this sign saying talent competition and me thinking I could do that impressions act and win – and promptly did.

"I suppose you are drawn to what you do."

- Alun Cochrane is at the Pyramid on March 19. Visit or ring 442345.