BY SEÁN P. FEENY
ON HIS recent suprise visit to entertain the staff of United Healthcare at their Christmas party in the Radisson Blu Hotel, top Irish comedian Neil Delamere spoke of his fondness of Donegal and its people.
“What I like about Donegal, in particular, is there is a wildness about the county and its people; there’s a real glint in people’s eyes here. You can really tell that an audience is from Donegal; there’s a kind of ‘we’ll go our own way’ attitude in Donegal. Comedians are traditionally those who are meant to go against the grain.
“Whenever you see referendum or election results and the country goes one way and Donegal goes ‘to hell with you, we’ll go whatever way we want’, comedians love that.
“I really like the atmosphere and that wild spirit that exists in Donegal and I think that’s why comedians love playing here,” said Neil.
The popular comedian will be visiting the county again on February 22 when he performs in Letterkenny’s An Grianán Theatre as part of his upcoming tour Smartbomb.
Neil has been one of Ireland’s most successful comedians over the past decade, and now he aims to tour in all 32 counties on his new tour.
“People say to me sometimes, ‘you’re away a lot’, but it’s not a big country. Letterkenny’s one of the furthest places you’d go and that’s only three hours, less at night. If you’re a comic in Ireland you can have a family life and a meaningful engagement with society.
“When I started doing Stand Up it took you two and three quarter hours to get to Belfast. Now when I do the Blame Game on BBC, it’s an hour and a half each way. I know people say we wasted the boom, but they built a nice motorway for comedians to travel home on.”
With his extensive television work over the past years, such as RTÉ’s The Panel, Republic of Telly, BBC’s The Blame Game, his historical documentaries on St Patrick and The Vikings, and his radio work, Neil is very much in demand for live performances.
Neil said: “I really love touring and it’s nice to know a little bit about the places you visit, it shows that you are paying attention. If I haven’t learned a bit about each place by now after touring every year for past eight years, I should be shot. There are places that you look forward to visiting every year. I have always liked Letterkenny and Ballybofey as it’s as much about the place and the venue as it is about the audience.”