Double Sony award winner and regular on TV comedy panel shows, Gary Delaney loves coming home to perform in Brum. We’re smart and don’t take offence.
A perfect audience is smarter than average and doesn’t take offence according to king of the one-liner, Gary Delaney. Apparently the Midlands has it all along with his wife’s home crowd, the North East. He says: “I like one of two things from an audience.
“One, a slightly smarter crowd so I get to do something more subtle and two, an audience that will let me be rude or dark without taking offence. In the Midlands and the North East I get both.” Having had a false start on the comedy circuit, Gary had a brief dalliance with event organising before chucking himself into the lion’s den of stand-up full time.
From Solihull Sixth Form, Gary went on to the London School of Economics where he liked the idea of stand-up but never had the nerve, so he worked behind the scenes on the sound desk. He recalls: “In the mid-90s my college buddy dabbled in stand-up and I helped him with his jokes.” (The college buddy Gary speaks of was millionaire money man Martin Lewis… not known for his humour). He adds: “I said to him one day ‘I’ve got this joke and it will bring the house down.’ He didn’t think it was as good as I did and told me if I thought it was that good perhaps I should do it myself?”
One night after a gig , Martin bet Gary he wouldn’t have the nerve to do stand-up. Money man Martin lost and Gary performed a five-minute set at the Comedy Brewhouse in Islington which he loved. He says: “It was such a buzz.” More gigs followed mainly in ‘fleapits’ initially but Gary admits: “I didn’t know what I was doing. I hadn’t worked out you have to work really hard. I had a couple of good gigs followed by a very bad one in a biker bar and I was all over the place.”
Gary’s sixth gig was on a TV show called The Warehouse which he got paid for and he thought ‘this is it, my big break’. More bad gigs followed and he packed up completely for four years. When Gary made a comeback in 2000, he was more focused and ready to put in the hard work. He explains: “I realised I was good at one-liners so I binned the rest. I was writing and gigging while doing the day job. As I got better at stand-up I got worse at the day job and I left two weeks before my 30th birthday.”
With no responsibilities Gary was able to ‘scrape a living’ earning £50 here and there until he started playing larger clubs like Glee and Jongleurs ¬– and then came the TV call-up. Now a regular on Mock the Week as well as an intense schedule of live shows Gary says: “TV’s fun, but honestly live shows are exhilarating. You can’t have one without the other and without TV I’d be doing stag and hen dos.”
IN THE MOOD
I wonder if Gary ever wakes up feeling distinctly unfunny and a bit grumpy. “Yes, but the advantage of my show, i.e. one-liners, is once I’ve written it which is the hard part, I just have to deliver it. I’m not making impromptu observations. I’ve just got to stand there and say it. The show must go on whether I’m in the mood or not.”
A tour takes Gary roughly three years to write and he’s constantly thinking of new material. “I record funny thoughts on my phone all the time then every Tuesday I sit down and write. When I trial new material a third of the jokes work well, a third are ok and a third are awful.”
Married to Geordie comedian Sarah Millican, they’re like the Posh and Becks of comedy and I imagine it’s a barrel of laughs at home. “We laugh a lot, but at normal stuff like the dog farting in front of the TV. We’re not at home constructing shows together. We just laugh at nonsense like everyone else.”
ALL THE LOLS
Here are our top five Gary Delaney gags. You’re welcome.
- Last night I had to get towed home. Ratty and Moley were too pissed to drive.”
- My girlfriend’s dog died, so to cheer her up I went out and got her an identical one. She was livid. “What am I going to do with two dead dogs?”
- This morning I went to a meeting of my premature ejaculators’ support group. But it turns out it’s tomorrow.
- I went to buy a Christmas tree and the guy asked ‘Are you going to put it up yourself?’ I said, ‘No, I was thinking the living room.’
- Last time I was here a girl asked me for sex. I had to disappoint her. We had sex.