By Joe Mellor, Deputy Editor
We caught up with Gary Delaney, the one-liner maestro, who a lot of people will know from his guest appearances on the TV show Mock on the Week. However, he is also an accomplished comedy writer, contributing to a lot of major comedy/light entertainment shows. We spoke to him as he starts the new leg of his “Purist” tour.
Hello Gary how are you today?
I’m good, thank you. How are you? Today I have mostly been doing admin in my pants. Pantmin if you like.
The final leg of your “Purist” tour started on 15th Feb in Chorley. How did it go?
Really nice. It was a lovely one to ease me back in as the crowd were up for it, and smart enough to get the clever jokes without being too up their own arses to laugh at the ruder or darker ones.
The tour ends in Blackburn, so no homecoming gig to Solihull? Was the allure to the start and end the tour in Lancashire too much?
I like audiences in the North West a lot. To be honest Solihull is a boring town. That’s why I’m not there anymore. Anyway they don’t need me, they’ve got Stewart Lee, Jasper Carrot and Don Maclean (the Carackerjack one, not the American Pie one)
Where do you call home these days?
Can you tell us a bit about what you did before comedy, what Uni did you attend and what did you study? Any weird jobs you might have had?
I did a degree in Economics at the London School of Economics. As a kid I always wanted to be a currency or bond trader (it was the 80’s). I’ve fixed photocopiers, I’ve worked for now defunct banks, I’ve cleaned up at a garage (literally not metaphorically), I’ve organised conferences, I’ve met Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton, and now I tell jokes. Now is best.
Were you naturally funny at school or did it develop as you got older?
I found out as a teenager that I could make people laugh by being a smart arse. It proved a useful skill then and now.
When and how did you start off in comedy?
I used to write jokes for ‘Money Saving’ Martin Lewis when he dabbled in stand-up in the 90s. He’s an old college friend. I wrote him a joke about nurses and said ‘Use this, it’s the best thing I’ve ever written’. He used it. It didn’t work. He told me it wasn’t any good. I said ‘You’re just not delivering it right’. He said ‘Do it yourself then’, and that was that. Basically he goaded me into it which I’ll always be grateful for. I always wanted to try stand up, but didn’t have the balls ‘til then.
You reportedly (ok it’s on Wikipedia) received death threats after complaining the humour website Sickipedia plagiarised your jokes. Some of your comedy is close to the bone; so do you ever can any jokes, as you worry about the reaction?
Internet death threats are mostly just noise. I never saw them as I don’t read about myself on the web. I imagine they were just nonsense really. If I think a joke is funny, and it works, then it’s in. I’m not overly concerned as to whether people are ‘offended’ or not. There’s really no such thing. ‘I’m offended’ is just a dick’s way of saying they didn’t like something.
You are known as great one-liner comedian, would you ever change your style?
Nope. That’s it for me. You soon find the thing you’re good at it in comedy. *runs off to buy guitar and tell sad stories*.
Do you change your one-liners during the set if the crowd warm to a different type?
Yes, a bit, some crowds obviously like more or less of a certain kind of joke so you can adapt to that at the margin.
BBC Online described you as “the man Jimmy Carr tries to be”. Is that because you pay your tax?
Nope, it’s because it was from a review written by someone very lazy.
Do you think twitter is a great new way for comedians to be discovered, I guess not everyone can join Footlights?
Twitter is a great showcase for people who can write short gags, it’s a much more crowded market place than 6 years ago when I joined but it still works.
You are a prolific comedy writer for other comedians and TV shows, but as you get more successful would you ever consider getting writers to help you?
I’m too arrogant to let other people help me write stand up. There’d be no fun in telling the joke onstage and getting someone else’s laugh.
In the podcast No Pressure to be Funny, in May 2013, you described yourself as a “right-wing libertarian”, fancy dipping your toe into politics like Al Murray?
Nope. I don’t know why people care about comic’s opinions on politics. Most comics have no understanding of economics so their views are largely pointless anyway. I think a comic’s opinions on politics are every bit as important as a butcher’s views on astronomy.
You starred in the comedy/horror film Trash house, I admit I haven’t seen it, but it didn’t get the best rating on IMDb, anymore plans to work in film?
An old friend of mine called Pat made that, in a warehouse in Southend. He asked me to be in it. I said ‘I can’t act’. He said ‘That’s OK, just play yourself’, I’m not even sure I was very convincing at that. I’m still waiting for my Academy Award, so I guess I’m a bit like Leonardo Dicaprio really.
Any advice for up and coming comedians?
Talent is abundant, the willingness to work hard is rare. Write every day. Gig every night. You’ll progress.
Review your material. Edit, improve, tweak. Replace weakest with better new stuff. Don’t speak too fast, stick to your time, do a little pause before the funny bit, don’t waffle, fake confidence, hold the mike near your mouth, be polite to others, and stay in the light.
After the tour what are your plans?
I’m currently writing the next tour. Previews will start about two weeks after this one ends. The gap in between is largely for sitting in my pants or in the garden depending on my mood.
Thanks for your time today Gary.
No problem cheers.
For more information on his current tour click here