“What I liked is the philosophy: it’s a kind-of inclusive way of life. The clothes are basically ‘magpied’ from all over the world; they’re Italian, they’re French, they’re American. The music is black roots or white soul. I have this thing that I made up about modernism, which is ‘macro tolerance, micro intolerance’. I don’t care if you’re black, white, Muslim, gay… it doesn’t bother me. I’m not going to judge you on that. But if you’re wearing shoes I don’t like, we’re probably not going to be friends!”
“Modernism is quite fertile for comedy. It’s very straight-line, very planned and very ordered. We’re control freaks. If something throws a spanner in the works, it’s fertile comic ground.”
Ian is also an expat. The appeal of rural life tempted him and his family – “my wife’s half-French and all my children are French” – to the Loire valley ten years ago. As a result, he becomes a cross-channel commuter whenever it’s time to work on stage, on radio or on TV. “There’s a certain amount of feet-dragging when I have to go to the UK, but coming back is a feeling of ecstasy almost… and relief. Every time I’m heading home, it still feels like I’m going on holiday.”
That’s not been the only dramatic change in Ian Moore’s life. After completing a Media Studies course at the Polytechnic of Central London, he wrote material for other comics. The transition to becoming a stand-up comic was sudden and unexpected. “The people I was writing for would change the material so much that it wasn’t – in my mind – funny any more. I went to see a comedy show with a friend and came out of it full of bravado, saying ‘I can do that’. She rang me a week later and said ‘put your money where your mouth is, I’ve booked you a gig’.”
A move into full-time performing came in 1997. “I wasn’t earning any money but my wife had a decent enough job for her to say ‘you’ve got two years to make it look like it’s going to be a career. If not, knuckle down and behave sensibly’. Fortunately I managed to sneak in under the wire and make it pay.”
And the act? “It is essentially me on stage. Sometimes I’m at home and I’ll go into some rant – could be any subject at all – but one of my children will turn round to me and say ‘you’re not at work now, daddy’. There’s a very fine line between what I would say is a persona and what is actually me. Whatever anyone does on stage, it’s always exaggerated.”
Home life for Ian has already formed the subject of two successful books. A third book, fictional this time, is on the way. Does this suggest Ian may one day cut back on performing and spend more time writing?
“I think so, yeah. That is certainly the plan. There are few buzzes in life as great as a really successful stand-up show – but the travel is too tiring. I don’t want to be doing it every week.”
I finish our interview by mentioning Ian’s forthcoming Lewes show and reminding him about the other visiting acts. He’s immediately transformed from hyper-cool mod into enthusiastic fan. “Wow. That’s a hell of a bill. I mean… Earl Okin has been going for years. He’s a very fine musician and a very fine comic as well. Noel [James], I haven’t seen for ages but a really off-the-wall original mind in comedy. That’s a terrific bill. Blimey.”
Comedy at the Con, Thu 8 January 2014, 8pm, 139 High Street, tickets available on the door, online or in advance from Union Music. ianmoore.info
This is an extended version of the article first published in Viva Lewes magazine issue 100 January 2015.