THE world of IT’s loss proved to be comedy’s gain, when Neil Delamere decided to sacrifice one for the other.
The talented Edenderry comedian, who is performing tonight at Birr Theatre and Arts Centre, made the move at a time the IT sector was booming.
“I did Computer Applications in DCU. It was just a stop gap measure because I knew I’d get a job. It was the late 90’s and it was kinda boom time and the IT sector was flying. I knew I didn’t want to be a doctor or a barrister or anything like that, simply because they are kind of vocations, you have to really want to do them. So I thought I’d flit around for a bit and then figure out what I wanted to do later on,” said Neil.
Before entering the world of IT, Neil came back home to Edenderry to work “in a Danish window factory in the middle of Offaly.”
“It was great though because you had this great mix of proper Offaly lads and a few Danish blokes used to run the place and they had these bizare accents that were half Danish half Offaly. They added a bit of flavour to the town as well. The guy who used to run it Sven, and Sven had three daughters and they were Edenderry’s version of the Corrs,” said Neil.
Before hitting the big time, like all successful comedians, Neil had to serve his apprenticehip. “My first appearance on The Panel was in 2004 but I started comedy in 2001 and I began to tour in 2007 . So you are talking maybe five or six years of doing clubs. You used to have to go to England every three or four weeks and do a weekend there. It was good because England paid about €1000 so it would keep you afloat for a while.”
The International Bar in Wicklow Street in Dublin was the venue for Neil’s first ever comedy gig, but he remembers seeing his first gigs in DCU. “Probably the first live gigs I saw were people coming through the college and I remember sitting there and judging them as a student and now I’m the guy who goes to those colleges and does all the gigs. It’s bizare seing it from the other side. It’s much easier than it used to be, for me than those guys because the students are coming to see me because they know me from stuff,” he said.
In 2004 Neil first came into our living rooms on a show that would make him a household name. “2004 was a really big year, I did Montreal and the producer of The Panel saw me do something in Montreal on Just for Laughs and he gave me a shot at The Panel. He saw something, some vague spark of potential. I was very lucky with the Panel. It just suited me, I fitted in with the characters around the table. You had Dara O’Brien who was this urbane sophisticated man, you had the grumpy notherner beside me, you had the scanger Dubliner and then you had here the culchie who had lived in Dublin. We all clicked together even in comedy styles. I suppose that’s why it worked.”
Neil splits his time betweem Dublin and hometown Edenderry, when he is touring. “Being from the midlands is brilliant because it’s on the way to everywhere. I’d always see the folks, (Kay and John Delamere)
For many Irish comedian the lure of Engalnd often proves too much of a temptation. But for Neil, this is not a move he plans in the near future.
“The longer you go on here now, the more comfortable you get, touring here, it’s nice when people are coming to see you, you’re doing TV. Opportunities kind of come to you at this stage. So if you were to go to England things would have to start again to a certain extent. I’ll continue doing the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It’s gets you a bit of exposure and it allows you to keep an eye on what’s going on. I do have an English agent that signed me on recently because I expressed a bit more of an interest. I wouldn’t be planning on going over there. I might eventually but it’s not on the horizon,” he said.
When the Offaly Express speaks to Neil he is just getting ready to go on stage in Tullamore. Does playing his home county make him nervous?
“I am a little nervous. You want it to go as well as it possibly can go and you are aware there are some people you will know. I always talk to the front row but you cant talk to them if you know them because you know what they do and there is no spontanety.
I remember the first time I ever came back here and did a gig in Tullamore in 2008. It was amazing, we all sang the Offaly Rover at the end. Everybody stood up. 400-500 people singing the Offaly Rover, it almost brought a tear to my eye.”
Working in such a star studded industry when asked had meeting any idols proved disappointing, Neil said “you meet people and the higher up they are the nicer they are. Because they seem to be comfortable with their success. I’ve always been very impressed with Dara O’Brien. He has always been very very nice, very charming, very welcoming, particularly when I came into The Panel. I’ve always liked Tommy Tiernan as well he has always been very nice. John Cleese was probably the most famous comedian I ever met. I made him laugh once. I asked him a question and he laughed at the answer.”
So who are the comedian’s favourite comedians? “The Pyjama Men are incredible, Daniel Kitson is one of the finest comedians working today, the late Mick Hedberg, Tommy Tiernan, Dara O’Brien, and in the UK Michael McIntyre. He’s very good at what he does.”
So what does the future hold for Neil? “I am trying to do a documentary on RTE on Vikings. I wrote a show about Vikings, and there had been some interest expressed in that, because nobody is doing anything like that on RTE. We have our panel shows and our naked camera shows those sort of those genres. Nobody is doing this type of stuff. I think people would find it interesting. I know I do,” said Neil.
But for now the general public will be happy to know Neil is touring Ireland, doing what he does best, making us laugh until we cry.