Offaly man Neil Delamere brought his razor-sharp wit and side-splitting quips to a sell-out audience at NUI Galway this month as part of the SU’s Mental Health Week. In an hour-long set which victimised Mayo men, Engineers, mature students and a Columbian woman whom he christened Miss Escobar; Delamere delivered a mix of lightening one-liners and attention grabbing anecdotes that left the crowd in stitches.
Chatting after the gig, Delamere was clearly still pumping with post-show adrenaline. With a list of television credentials including The Panel, The Blame Game, Republic of Telly, Neil Delamere’s Just for Laughs, and a weekly radio show under his belt, nothing beats the buzz of a live audience for this stand-up fanatic.
“You know if I have a joke about a pink elephant I just do the joke about a pink elephant. On telly you go well, where are we going to get a pink elephant at this hour? Can we even get a pink elephant? Can we get a normal elephant and paint it pink? Can we green screen an elephant in? Do we really need a pink elephant, would a hippo do? Whereas the only thing that limits you in stand-up is the words you can think of. So nothing really limits you”.
He speaks a mile a minute, certainly not limited by words. But where did it all begin? Rewinding a little, Delamere recalls own his childhood growing up in Edenderry, Co. Offaly. He fondly remembers young Neil as being shy and academic at school, but a self-confessed “pain in the arse” for the teachers. He separated himself from the rest of the comics by knowing not to cross the sacred ‘line’.
It wasn’t until after school that Delamere started to pursue comedy. Admitting that his decision to study Computer Applications at DCU was solely job-focussed, he jokes that unfortunately Brewing and Distilling at Carlow IT wasn’t an option in his day. 2004 brought Neil Delamere his big television breaks with appearances on The Panel and at the Just for Laughs festival in Montreal. However, the years between uni and telly weren’t all just laughs.
“Every comedian has died at some point”, he solemnly says. “You die in your early days when you have to take gigs to get experience. You’re walking into gigs and the Champion’s League is on a television above your head and you’ve no stage and no lights and people haven’t paid in and they’re just not interested”.
Alas, those days are gone and having established himself as one of Ireland’s top comedians, Delamere can pick and choose his gigs as he pleases. From Canada, to Australia: he’s played to audiences of all nationalities, preventing complacency and keeping him on his toes.
“When you do Edinburgh Fringe Festival where the audience will be from everywhere it’s good because it kind of focusses you. Then it’s really great when you come back to Ireland and you’re messing with someone in the front row and you know that every single reference that you can think of they will understand. There’s no pause or delay or anything”.
Irishisms were a-plenty indeed at NUI Galway’s show and gained the big laughs from the predominately Irish crowd. But who is funny enough for the funny man? He reels them off modestly with admiration: Tommy Tiernan, Dylan Moran, Daniel Kitson, Flight of the Concords, the “improvisational genius” Ross Noble and the acclaimed one-liner Milton Jones.
“I like people that do it in a different way to how I do it”, he muses. “If anybody is reading this and is interested in stand-up, don’t let anybody tell you how to do it. There are so many ways”.
Neil Delamere has certainly found his way in the laugh-business and is not slowing down just yet. As far as the future is concerned, between panels, documentaries, stand-up and radio – Delamere’s excitement for the variety of the job is unwavering.
“As long as I can stand on stage and act the eegit, I’ll be happy out”.
Once there’s a leg to pull, Delamere will be tugging it.
Neil Delamere will return to Galway with his show ‘Handstand’ on 19 January 2017 at the Townhall Theatre.
-By Aisling Bonner