Oct 24, 2011

Brain + charisma + dimples = *sigh*

by Nikki Logan

I’m talking today about what a dangerous mix a really good brain, natural charisma and the ‘everyman’ quality are, but first a little context…

BOCSTicketing.com.au - Davies back onstage in Aus in December 
I went along to Q.I. LIVE in Perth on Friday night—the first of a new format to bring this popular British television quiz show to the stage. I was five rows back, centre, and had an awesome up close view of the very talented Stephen Fry and his equally clever and permanent fixture Alan Davies. 

Fry was predictably and brutally well-informed and witty and just so very charming on stage it was impossible to hate him for that.  But the show started to flat-line from the moment Fry finished his witty one-man intro and a series of reasonably-known but pale-by-comparison Aussie comedians who didn’t add a whole lot of value to the show (and who probably should have watched QI before participating)  joined the panel.

But… like a human defibrillator… Alan Davies then burst onto stage and jolted the show and the audience back to life and then kept them alive with three hours of top-effort theatrical CPR. Despite the early onset pneumonia he was suffering he manned up to the floundering effort from the Aussies and carried the contestants part of the show single-handed. He and Fry did what they do best – bounced off each other constantly for the next three hours.

I’ve not seen Davies perform live and I always wondered whether his sterling witt on QI was actually about good editing, but…no. The man is funny. And sharp in a pretending-not-to-be way. Really talented at improv (or at seamlessly delivering pre-loved material as though it were improv) and he has an intelligence that is somehow so much more accessible than Fry’s spooky, remote brilliance. 

And he’s terminally, inexplicably hot.

I know..! I didn’t expect it either.

Alan Davies
(Creative Commons)
I think it’s that accessibility that wheedled under my defences. Cos—let’s face it—the anatomically odd, lisping Davies lounging around onstage in a flannie with not-quite-clean, needs-a-good-trim mop of curls, and hacking up a mouthful of phlegm every time he laughed should not have been sexy.

But it was.

Davies was inexplicably mesmerising. I seriously could not take my eyes off him. And neither could half the audience judging by our sycophantic giggles every time he did…well, anything really. The fact that he stole the show from someone as seasoned and knife-blade brilliant as Stephen Fry says a lot.

So…clearly ‘charisma’ is not just about sexual attraction. And attraction is not just about physical appearance or even physical contact (because Davies looked like the fashion equivalent of the stuff he was coughing up and none of us were close enough to paw him.)

Yet… something in him reached out and twisted around me and held me as thoroughly in his thrall as those vampires we love to read about and watch. And I didn’t shake my head free of it until half way home in the car.

It’s a strange kind of mix between a cognitive appreciation for his skill as a comedian and his low-key smarts, and visceral responsiveness to his crack-a-beer-with-the-front-row mateyness and his adorable self-deprecating tendencies.

The triple- (quadruple-) threat:  intelligence, proficiency, accessibility, modesty.

Just like the best romantic heroes. He had me at ‘Hello Australia…’  And now I'm off to BOCS to grab a ticket to his next show.

Have you ever been captivated by someone’s charisma against all logic, sense and taste? What is ‘charismatic’ for you? What’s your personal triple-threat? Do you adore a man that can laugh at himself?


  1. Nikki - pure genius nerd Professor Brian Cox was on QI on british TV on Friday night and I fell in love. Nerdy, brilliant, and very, very clever he is a whole Mills and Boon hero just waiting for a book!

  2. *sigh* Alan Davies... *swoon*

    Huge Jonathon Creek fan.. Would love to see him live one day.

  3. Oh - and check out Whites for a really off-the-wall, quirky comedy with Alan Davies.

    The guy out of Black Books is another one that gets me like that - Dylan Moran. Mmmmm...

  4. I have to say I have never seen this show (I watch very little TV) but sounds like it was a great night Nikki and yes I love a man with a great sense of humour and can laugh at himself

    Have Fun

  5. Oh, I love QI, Nikki! Am very jealous that you went to the live show. Jonathon Creek is big in our house too, so I've had a big soft spot for Alan Davis for a while now. :-)

    Okay, and surprisingly, against logic and sense -- Bill Bailey (the long-haired, flaky guy from Black Books that Dylan Moran's character bullies). Saw him perform live in London (I'm trying to make you jealous back) and he held the audience in the palm of his hand with his whimsy and his bizarre thought processes, and made us love him. And he's not pretty. One of his stage shows was called Part Troll, and that does describe him pretty accurately. :-)

  6. We're another household that loves QI and Jonathon Creek. *So* jealous of your QI Live and Alan Davies experience, Nikki, and totally understand the hot thing. Brain + charisma + dimples will do it every time.

  7. Also a *huge* Jonathon Creek fan, so it was Alan Davies that originally made me turn on QI - love it.

  8. Nikki, you've given me a whole new outlook on this guy. Must watch out for him in his next show.
    Sue MacKay

  9. I've watched QI but never considered any of the panel as sexy :) Must revisit with that in mind next time. I've never really gone for the 'quirky' hero type. Although I have have had a crush on American actor Brian Dennehy for as long as I remember - with no idea why :)
    Great post.

  10. Hi Nikki
    Very interesting observations. For me, charisma isn't about physicality at all. People who are wise and kind, who have gentle humour and tolerant spirituality, draw me to them. I always look into someone's eyes when I meet them, and the twinkle in them and the laugh lines round them get me every time.
    That, and people who make me laugh out loud with their astute observations.
    Warmth + eye twinkle + humour = you've got me

  11. Scarlet - hi! I saw the Twitterverse abounding with praise for Brian Cox after his stint on QI (including calls for a show with just him and Fry in it, LOL). We probably won't see that here for two years, but I'll watch out for it. Go the brains!

  12. Kez - yes, loved him as Jonathon Creek, too.

    I adore Dylan Moran but his alcholic ways are just too close to a very close family member and it makes me uncomfortable to watch him live. But Black Books is one of my all time favs for him and (Michelle...take note!) Bill Bailey.

  13. Oh Helen - you have the fabulous QI all ahead of you (it stands for 'Quite Interesting' and is a show based aroudn some fabulous odd facts of nature and science etc). I like it because it showcases the guests' natural comedic talent without being flashy and in your face.

  14. Rachel - Have booked to go see Alan Davies one-man standup show in December. A second dose of fabulousness :)

  15. Michelle - bwahaaaa on 'part troll'. Bill Bailey is a classic example of someone we really shouldn't be drawn to and yet... It really is hard NOT to appreciate a fine mind...even if it's housed in a half-troll, half-gnome :)

    Anita - I wonder if he has a clue how attractive we all find him. would like to think so :) for his sake.

    Helen - no, he doesn't strike me as all that sexy on the TV but it was just LIVE... something about the inperson vibe he was pumping out... And Brian Dennehey... interesting... He's another very smart, very competent one, isn't he...

    Sue - get thee to ABC instantly :)

  16. "People who are wise and kind, who have gentle humour and tolerant spirituality, draw me to them"

    Natalie, I like this. It's so true. Charisma is not physical at all. And so it begs the question whether if charisma is housed in a gorgeous physicality...would we notice it? Or does it only stand out when not?

    Hmmm.... I shall ponder this.

  17. I've never come across Alan Davies, Nikki, but from your description, he sounds extremely attractive! A sense of humour is far, far more attractive than six-pack abs. Clever and funny -- sounds perfect to me!

  18. Putting my hand up as another Creek fan and I agree, Nikki, AD is wonderful in QI, too. I'm a sucker for that British, self-deprecating but very quick humour. People like Roddy O'Doyle are fabulous in interviews.

  19. I love Stephen Fry, Alan Davies is unknown to me.

    A man who can laugh at himself shows me he is confident, intelligent & accessible.

  20. Nikki, what an intersting post! My husband can't understand that a man doesn't need to look like Brad Pitt to be sexy, attractive, hot!
    It's about confidence, I think. And I love a deep dreamy voice. And what about certain individual expressions that wind up one's pulse...like when Richard Gere blinks really quickly when he's thinking. So simple but he does it like no one else can.
    My dh says he has a big nose and no shoulders. Oh. Really. I hadn't noticed =)

  21. Nikki, cool to have been in the audience of QI and how interesting to hear your experience! It's one of those shows that I enjoy but almost wonder why... and Top Gear is another! I'm not a car buff by any stretch but Jeremy Clarkson's droll delivery, the chemistry between the three of them taking the mickey out of each other is somehow irresistible.


  22. Great post Nikki!

    I think my triple threat is: intelligence, exceptional at what they do and the ability to make me laugh.

    Now you've got me seriously considering going to Alan Davies in December!

  23. I went to Sunday night's show - third row! - and it sounds like Alan was wearing the same costume as Friday night (and hurking up the same pneumonia-induced phlegm). And yet...there's nothing sexier than a funny man, and he was hilarious. I bought pre-sale tickets to his December show on the strength of my Jonathan Creek fangirl status, and am looking forward to it even more after my QI preview. He has intelligence, wit, humour and quirkiness in just the right mix. And he's married to a writer - so obviously he has excellent taste as well ;)