Terry Alderton, comedy, depression and his evil alter ego
Terry Alderton, stand-up comedian, packs his high-energy shows with impressions and caricatures – including his evil alter-ego.
Audience, beware. Depression, he says, is part of who he is and comedy is not just a job but an important therapy. He tells us why.
...on his early days in comedy
I always wanted to be a comedian. I started at 18, with a season at a holiday camp in Great Yarmouth. And I was doing open spots at the Joker Comedy Club in Southend.
From there I went onto Sky’s Star Search programme and ended up winning. I got TV thrust at me, and by the end of the 90s I was on prime time BBC TV doing the likes of London’s Burning. Then one day they suddenly said, that’s it, we’re not using him anymore. Bye-bye.
That was when I crashed. I was still trying to do stand-up, but people were laughing at my fashion sense, not my comedy. I was dying on stage.
...on his depression
Depression is a horrible, horrible thing that creeps up on you. And just as you start to pull yourself clear, you think about the awful things you’ve said or done and you get dragged back in. It’s like a black hole. And it’s so self-indulgent. I’m always saying to myself, What are you doing? Get a grip! But you can’t.
For me, it’s a love-hate thing. There’s a wickedness that comes out of my mind sometimes, and I hate myself. But it’s a cry for help. It’s me wanting someone to tell me everything’s alright. And in a way I thrive on it, it drives me.
...on finding his voices
That first depression was an evil place to be. But there was a silver lining: it forced me to reinvent myself. After a dreadful show in Manchester, I drove home and had a good long chat with myself about what to do. I really went to the depths of my soul and I had a kind of epiphany. When I walked on stage a few months later, I started using my inner voices ...I just turned my back on the audience and voiced what was in my head. Luckily, it worked. And now I’m taking my career to where I want to go.
If the career bomb hadn’t happened, I’d probably be some naff hack TV presenter now and just hating myself.
...on his inner demons
I think we all have an inner dialogue. My counsellor called it a ‘drama triangle.’ You beat yourself up about stuff – that’s the bully and the victim. And then you rationalise it – that’s the saviour. And that’s what I do in my act. But I know my voices are in my head. And there’s always a side of me that’s able to say, right, let’s calm this down. I can’t imagine what it’s like to really hear them. Scary. Claustrophobic.
...on getting help
When I started anti-depressants, it was a great thing and I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner. I think I was wary of stifling what made me tick, but I should have got help a long time ago. I’d rather dull the pain and the constant heckling.
...on performing as therapy
Comedy is my outlet. If I couldn’t get up on stage, the demons would just go round and round my head, with no release. Painting, dancing, singing or exercising – everyone needs some kind of vent.
Want to hear Terry live on stage? Check out Terry’s website www.terryalderton.com to find out what he’s up to and where you can meet the many sides of his character.
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