BY SEÁN P. FEENY
ONE of Ireland’s most popular comedians, Neil Delamere, recently paid a visit to Donegal when he was invited to surprise the staff of United Healthcare at their Christmas party in the Radisson Blu Hotel.
Prior to his engagement we caught up with the affable Stand Up ahead of his upcoming new show, Smartbomb, which will come to Letterkenny’s An Grianán Theatre on February 22 as part of Neil’s nation-wide tour hitting every county on the island of Ireland.
In his new show, Neil said, he goes back to the more ‘classic’, less rigged and structured shows that he became so popular for, full of audience interaction.
“These shows are the most fun for the audience; they know nothing is planned and makes every show individual. People don’t come up and tell you which story they enjoyed, they will say things like ‘I was at the gig where you go the fella to bench the young lad’.
“I love other people doing this myself, like Dara (Ó Briain) who is excellent at it or Jason (Byrne) who brings audience interaction to a new level of insanity.”
Neil said Smartbomb is about six people who think ‘slightly less’ of him now as they did last year.
“I’m beginning to think it’s me and not them as I am the central protagonist in all of these stories.
“It’s going to be the usual mix of messing around with the audience so you can tailor each show to the individuals in the room and improvise.”
Neil has never been off our television screens over the past decade, at one stage even doing The Panel and Republic Of Telly (both on RTE TWO) and The Blame Game (BBC NI) all at the same time, which he will admit was hard work to do.
But aside from panel shows Neil established himself as a very popular writer and presenter of various show formats, whether it’s his radio work with PJ Gallagher one RTE Radio One’s Second Republic, filling in for John Murray or Derek Mooney, or is hugely popular documentaries on St Patrick and the Vikings.
On New Year’s Eve he will present a brand new show on RTÉ television called Next Year’s News, alongside PJ Gallagher and Eoghan Mac Diarmada, which will hopefully be continued in the format of a weekly topical show, Next Week’s News in 2014.
Neil said: “The documentaries are big projects to take on as they are much more labour-intensive as an hour-long panel show. Between the live touring, television and radio programmes, it has been all go for as long as I can remember and long may it continue.”
Neil and is team are currently in discussions to return to our screens in the autumn of 2014 with documentaries on Red Hugh O’Donnell, Gráinne Mhaol and Cuchulainn and Fionn MacCool.
Whereas quite a number of Neil’s peers have made the permanent move to the UK, the Edenderry native said he has never been short of work on the island of Ireland.
“I don’t have to move to London and I hope I never do. Living at home in Ireland I have the best of both worlds and can dip in and out.
“I do the Edinburgh Fringe every year and have a UK agent (Off The Curb) who look after Michael McIntyre, Dara (Ó Briain), Alan Carr, Jonathan Ross, Rich Hall, an incredible stable of acts. So the option would be there to choose it, but I have been very lucky.”
Living at home in Ireland, keeps his writing very fresh, Neil said. “I do a new show every year and you have to do that in Ireland. There are place sin the UK, clubs where you could do the same 20 minutes for ever and ever. Or even a tour that lasts a year and a half, whereas here you have to do a new show every year and build up a following in that way.
“I have been very lucky with the opportunities I have been given and I thank God every day.
“When I walk out onto a stage, I’m immensely grateful to the audience members who spend their hard-earned cash to come and see me,” said Neil.
Tickets for Neil Delamere’s show Smartbomb at An Grianán Theatre, Letterkenny, on February 22, are now available on Tel 07491 20777 or www.angrianan.com
We had such a great chat with Neil Delamere and covered so many things, read why Neil has a real affinity for Donegal and its people only in this Friday’s Donegal News.