This week, Soundsphere’s very own Dom Smith caught up with rising comedian and old university pal Alasdair Beckett-King. They talk about King going viral, how he views success, how he creates his videos, and much more.
With King’s star rising fast, how does he define success for himself? He states straight away that he isn’t rolling in the mountains of cash. He makes enough to get by and is very happy he can be creative. As the years have gone on, more and more of the work that I do, is the work that I like. Or work that is my own creative stuff, and that’s success.”
He can handle the level of success he has due to his age and not arriving into success in comedy in his 20s, but rather his 30s. Especially with the rise of social media, where people feel like they can comment on just about anything. “People feel like they can comment on quite personal things, which doesn’t bother me, but it makes me think that I’m glad I’m not doing this if I was younger. Because if my sense of self-esteem or worth was more tied to how I looked than it is, then that would be quite tough.”
Hailing from Durham originally before heading off to York St John University, King has had a varied career. His first job was washing pans at Norwich Union. He went to film school and even attempted to make films of his own, which didn’t pan out. He then began working on different video games before ending up in comedy. You may know King’s work even if you haven’t heard his name before. The video that has thrown him into viral stardom, titled ‘Every Single Scandinavian Crime Drama,’ currently sits at over five million views on YouTube. King’s channel also boasts an impressive 240K subscribers. Since then, he has had stints on BBC’s Mock the Week to much acclaim.
So, how did King gain social media clout? He puts it down to pure luck. Someone took the Scandinavian noir video and put it on Reddit. From there, as King says, “it went, for want of a better word, a bit viral.” It began to circulate every social media outlet you can think of, and King finally made it available on YouTube. “I think it is luck; those sorts of things are random, and you can’t make these things go viral,” says King.
In terms of how he makes his sketches, it remains a small affair. The process rarely involves anyone else, and he mainly writes, edits, and records the sketches himself using a Canon M100 camera. In terms of where he finds creative inspiration for his sketches, King says he finds fun in replicating the pastiche and aesthetic in the video. He says that videos are different because “Every couple of weeks writing a one to two minute long sketch.” He goes on to say that, “By making small bits of work, over the course of a year has built up.”
Open mic is where he began his passion for comedy originally. But it’s not as simple as going up there and telling jokes off the top of your head. You’ve still got to write something. Or, as Alasdair puts it, “You can just go out there and go ‘is this joke good’.” He loves the medium of stand-up because of the instant feedback you can get. “You can go to an open mic and sign up, and you can do 5 minutes of comedy and get immediate feedback.”
Another thing people think they must do is move to London, but Alasdair doesn’t think that this is always the case. He doesn’t regret not moving to London any sooner and enjoys the city very much. There is still a lot of snobbery around the London media bubble, saying, “It’s very annoying as a northerner living in London.” Depending on what you want to do, it can be flexible. Especially games work, which can be done anywhere.
Speaking of games, King is still in the world of video games. Even helping on projects such as Unforeseen Incidents, a steam game that is centred around a challenging investigating and is a classic point and click game. He even says they can’t be killed off even if people have been declaring them dead for the past 30 years. He loves video games, comedy, and so much more. He doesn’t understand people are only interested in one thing and one thing only. “We all have our passions, but who is only really interested in one thing? I understand the career advantage to only focussing on one thing and just going for it, but I have enjoyed only doing whatever interested me.” Career highlights soon raise its head, and King opens up on Mock the Week. With achieving certain milestones such as Mock the Week, he says, “As soon as you’ve done them, they sort of dissolve into thin air.”
You’ll be seeing much more of King in the future. He will be at the Leicester Comedy Festival in February next year (Covid permitting) and will continue to put out content on his YouTube & Twitter. Along with his podcast, Loremen.
Original interview: Dom Smith / Words: Brett Herlingshaw