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Gag reflex

One-liner comedian Gary Delaney tells David Hennessy why he’s looking forward to performing in Ireland, why he stays away from political comedy and how he upset the island of Jersey.

“I’m looking forward to it,” comedian Gary Delaney tells The Irish World of his upcoming trip to Ireland to perform in Dublin and Belfast for the first time with his current show, Gagster’s Paradise.

“Loads of people kept saying, ‘When are you doing Northern Ireland? When are you doing Dublin?’ So I kept bugging the promoter and convinced him to put a couple of Irish gigs together. It should be good fun.”

Gary is a regular on panel shows like Mock the Week and is known for his show that is just fast gag after fast gag. With a name like Delaney, he has Irish heritage but can’t honestly say how strong it is or where it comes from. He also says these two dates are a tester before he travels there with his show more regularly and to include some of the smaller cities also.

Some comedians find it hard to stay away from topics like Brexit, Boris Johnson or Donald Trump, no matter how hard they try. Do topics like this pop up in Gary’s show? “I keep the show explicitly non-political.

“I don’t see it as a comic’s job to make people think and react on their life and change their minds. If they come out and they’ve learned something, I’ve done the wrong job. I’m not a professor. I used to occasionally dabble in the odd political joke but now the whole arena is so divisive, I just want people to come together and have a nice time so there’s no jokes from the right, no jokes from the left, no jokes from remain, no jokes from leave. Everybody’s welcome wherever they sit on the divide.

“It’s just people coming together and having a laugh. If I write a good joke and I think it comes from a particular point of view or that I’ve done a serious joke, I’ll take it out. Every time you make a political joke, you’re narrowing down your audience. I started off with one joke about Jeremy Corbyn and one joke about Boris Johnson and about two months in, I just got rid of both of them. I thought, ‘No, not doing it’.

“There are a lot of political comics who do their thing and are great at what they do but I’m not one of them. The show is a way to escape from all that. There’s enough divisiveness and arguments and all that. I don’t think a comedy club is the place for it. Whatever’s going on in your life, whatever you’re getting away from or trying not to think about, you can take a holiday from: Redundancy, illness, all the things that go wrong in life. In a comedy club, you should just be able to take your brain off and forget about that for two hours.”

There’s a fine line between being funny and causing offence and Gary once upset a few (106,000 to be exact) people  on one of his early television appearances: “I did get caught out quite badly like that on my first Mock the Week. The topic on there was about Jimmy Carr and the tax avoidance scandal. This was back in 2012 so I was talking about that and I was also trying to be quite careful because I get on with Jimmy. I didn’t want to slag him off too much. It was all about these companies in Jersey and I said, ‘The people of Jersey just want to shake off their tax avoidance tag and get back to their previous reputation as Nazi sympathisers’.

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“That was a mistake. I said it, it went on telly and they weren’t happy at all and that really blew up. That was nearly the end of my TV career as soon as it began. Maybe nowadays seven years later it would have been. This tour is much bigger but I haven’t put any Jersey dates because I still don’t know if I’m welcome, if they’ve forgiven me or not.”

Gary is married to well known comedian Sarah Millican. Are the two comedians funny at home? “It’s a funny house in the way other people’s houses are funny, laughing at normal things, just laughing at normal things. We’re not sitting there trying to craft routines and testing them out on each other.

“We do. We’re not sitting here cracking routines and chucking them at each other. If we’re laughing, it’s probably because the dog’s just farted or something like that. We do (have a funny house) but it’s not work.

“It’s just two funny people in a house. We do make each other laugh but we don’t sit down and work out our material. We have very different sense of humour. Everything Sarah says is real and pretty much everything I say is made up. You don’t want to be arguing about whose joke it is, who gets to use it.”

Gary tours the UK and Ireland until March with his show Gagster’s Paradise. He plays Dublin’s Sugar Club on 13 January and Belfast’s Out to Lunch Fest on 14 January.

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