Best known for his presence on The Panel and The Blame Game, Neil Delamere is one of the most well known and loved Irish comedians at the moment. With his third DVD, Implement of Divilment, out on the 11th of November and his latest tour kicking off in The Helix, I sat down with Neil to talk about what’s next for the funny man, from Offaly of all places.
Neil got into comedy while studying Computer Applications in DCU. As they still do today, comedians would play regularly on campus, but how did he get started himself? “I was sitting in the bar watching the likes of Deirdre O’Kane and Eddie Bannon touring and that got me interested. I never considered that it could be a proper job though, I’d no idea people actually did this for a living full time. So I just did it once and got into it there from that.”
Neil’s photograph hangs in the DCU library, I asked him what it was like to be back here as a well known alumni, “When I walk on stage its nice that people know that I went here, so there’s a connection between me and the other random culchies in the room. It’s as close to a home gig as you can get really.” Neil is living in Dublin now since finishing college.
On DCU itself, “It’s great, it’s all changed, not since last year but it has changed considerably since I went here. There was no hub and no sports centre and we had a rubbish little library, but its good to see the street still leaks which is nice.”
With a return to DCU an annual thing, Neil looks forward to returning though now that the age gap is growing between him and his audience he appreciates that he has to work a bit harder than he used to, “Sometimes I find the older you get, the more you have to try to make the connection with the people who are at a considerably different time in their lives than you.” The DCU crowd however remains one of his favourites to play to regardless of the age difference. “There are certain places, which I’m not going to name, but there are certain third level institutions and establishments that aren’t as receptive and quick on the uptake as students in DCU.”
The Helix would be a venue the ideal size for Neil’s shows; while it holds a lot of people, audience interaction is not lost on the rest of the crowd. “I think 1500-2000 people is the maximum number for comedy, that said, if you said to me tomorrow morning, ‘We will shift 10,000 tickets for the 02 and here is the cheque that you will get’, I pretty much can be bought, I’m fairly sure I’d go, ‘Yeah well integrity’s all well and good but I’d like a new car’, so I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.”
Neil’s Viking heritage has him working on a history show for RTE which will air over two nights at the end of November, “It’d be nice if people watched it and learned something without realising they’re learning something, that’s the intention behind it, nothing too heavy, but in the pub the next night you might go “Did you know that the Viking blablabla” instead of a dry way of learning stuff.”
Some of my favourite Neil sketches are when he talks about things his Dad does; his magic measuring feet, answering the house phone when something rings on TV etc. I asked if his latest tour would be filled with material along these lines. “No he hasn’t done anything particularly interesting in the last while. He needs to do more stuff because I’m writing a new show, I might go home and give him LSD or something, I’d imagine I’d get a brand new show out of that!”
With a tour starting and many shows ahead of him, I wondered if he ever got fed up of telling the same jokes and saying roughly the same things so many times in a row. “Yeah to an extent you do but if you talk to the audience and have banter with the audience, the framework of the show will change. You’ll still have your material but it will keep the show different, it keeps you interested, one night you can have one person and the next night you’ll have someone completely different.” Some audience interactions are more memorable than others, “I had a man who was a scientist and I said to him what he was studying and he said ‘I’m currently studying about why you cant tickle yourself,’ which was amazing and then beside him was his wife and then on the other side was a newsreader I recognised from BBC Northern Ireland so we got her to make announcements in the newsreader voice. We were trying to come up with things a newsreader would never say. So she was like ‘Next up, the headlines, I love biscuits.’ You just never know what’s going to occur.”
And for any aspiring comedians out there, Neil had some advice, “Write as much as you can and gig as much as you can.”