Context is everything in comedy. Each performer has to define their own boundaries but I believe that there is no subject that cannot be joked about — as long as you have a reason to do it and are being funny.
I was your average shy and awkward teen. I wasn’t necessarily the life and soul of the party.
There is no history of performance or comedy in my family. My parents were happy that I got a degree before I went into stand up as it is such an unpredictable career choice.
I live in Dublin but was brought up in Edenderry and it’s always great to go back there. When I was growing up there were no comedy clubs in the area or even in the county. It was only when I came to Dublin to go to DCU that my interest got sparked.
After school, I did computer applications and got a job in software until the dot com bubble burst and I chose to jump ship. It was a lunatic decision but I had just won a comedy competition, which meant I had a bit of prize money to live on, and a lot of my friends were being laid off so I thought — why not?
My first gig was in The Comedy Cellar. I was terrified and afterwards I had no idea how it went as I blanked the whole thing out.
Stand up is the Fás course of comedy. There are no short cuts in getting to the top in this game. You just have to write and perform as much as you can, building up your material and honing your skills.
If life has taught me anything so far it is that we are mere specks on the firmament. And that football is cool.
I’m sure I have a whole litany of annoying habits but if I had to pick one it would probably be sleeping too much.
Two pieces of work advice stand out for me. One was Deirdre O’Kane saying, ‘It’s not surprising that those who work the hardest do the best’. The other was Rich Hall telling me, ‘You will figure this out when you have been doing it for 10 years — then talk to me.’
I enjoy audience interaction and think comedians generally welcome hecklers — how you deal with them has a lot to do with rhythm and timing. And, of course, not all hecklers are the same — some are coming from a place of disruption and trying to wrest control away from you while others want to be constructive and encouraging. You have to know the difference.
I have a real interest in history and would love to do a lot more TV work in that area — as well as a lot more radio.
The trait I most admire in others is loyalty.
When I get back from a gig I usually wind down until the early hours of morning — I read the paper, have a cup of tea and a biscuit. That type of thing.
There are myriad ways to approach the job of being a stand up. You see many different styles — there are people like Jimmy Carr who is a one-line merchant and then there are others like Des Bishop who write very personal material. I’m somewhere in between.
Neil Delamere’s new DVD Implement of Divilment is out now. He will be appearing on Saturday, November 26, at Vicar Street, Dublin; Friday, December 16, at Siamsa Tire, Tralee; Friday, January 20, at Theatre Royal, Waterford; Saturday, January 21 at UCH, Limerick and Saturday, February 4 at Cork Opera House. For more check out neildelamere.com/gigs.