FOR years the kids didn’t understand what I do,” said father-of-two Hal Cruttenden.

“They thought I was a clown without the face paint and outfit.

“You have to make out it is really hard work because you want them to respect you - you don’t want them thinking you mess about and show off on stage, and get paid for it… I like to describe myself as a hero to my children, risking danger and death, but they don’t really buy it.

“It must be great to be a fireman or a policeman and come home and say, ‘I kept you safe tonight children,’ whereas all I have is, ‘I entertained people and made them laugh.’

“I congratulated my youngest on saying something witty when she was about eight, and she said, ‘Yeah, and I don’t even have to spend hours sat in a room planning it like you do.’

“But it does mean they see the hard work and the volume of material that you write to enable you to perform stand-up.”

A Wyvern Theatre audience will have the chance to experience the newest of that material on Friday, August 30, when Hal appears as part of Gag House Comedy Superstars.

The touring show, making its Swindon debut, sees Hal appear with other notables from the comedy circuit, any number of TV panel shows, and Live at the Apollo.

His co-stars are Rhys James, The Raymond and Mr Timpkins Revue and Steff Todd.

Hal has made more than his share of panel show appearances, as well as The Royal Variety Performance and programmes such as The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice and The Apprentice: You’re Fired.

He is currently in the midst of his solo tour, Chubster, which has proved so popular that extra dates have been added. The show began life at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

“Chubster is constantly developing,” he said.

“I’m always writing new content to keep it interesting. If you’re doing a gig with the same material you’ve done for several months, it starts to get a bit depressing.

“I could never perform the same play for nine months - it would drive me mad to deliver the same words night after night.

“I tend to write a lot at Christmas because there’s always a new tour or a new festival on the horizon.

“I find jokes come from what’s happening around me. The best ones just come to you in the moment.

“I was at a drivers’ awareness course with a nun today, and I just sat there chuckling away knowing that I’ll do something with that. Usually you get one big idea and then other things take shape around it.

“For me, stand-up is a bit like therapy. It’s talking about things I really care about and getting something off my chest.

“Sometimes you have to be a bit careful – there have been occasions when I’ve become obsessed and just wanted to write about Brexit or Trump all of the time – but you can never sit down and say, ‘I should do something about this’ because it doesn’t work.

“The comedians who influenced me at the start of my career were people like Eddie Izzard in the 90s, but I’ve become increasingly influenced by so many different styles of comedy.

“I’m interested in the bravery of really shocking comics; I love some Frankie Boyle and Ricky Gervais stuff even though I would never want to be as shocking as them.

“I suppose I’m becoming a little bit more edgy – but with a camp, posh voice!”

Tickets for the August 30 Wyvern show which starts at 8pm, cost £22.50 with various concessions available. The box office can be reached on 01793 524481 and via