Neil And Be Thankful

Funnyman Neil Delamere holds forth on the ongoing economic shitstorm, comedy groupies and his family’s dodgy history as sword-wielding marauders with interesting moustaches.

“I’m fascinated by that thing,” says Neil Delamere pointing at my voice recorder. “Are you going to have to listen to our whole conversation back?”

That is kind of the idea, I concur.

The Irish comedian looks sympathetic. “You’re going to try and have to make sense of my ramblings.”

In truth the conversation does jump around a bit. Delamere has a magpie mind and in the hour or so I spend with him we cover everything from the state of the economy to the idea of Delamere posing for Hot Press in lingerie, which if we could persuade him to do it, would be quite a coup. I reckon he’d look fetching in blue.

“My skin tone is pale blue! I’m like something from Avatar. The only trouble is, where do you go from there? It’s like scoring the winning goal in the World Cup. I like to have something to aim for – it keeps the human spirit alive. A man can dare to dream!”

Although perhaps not exactly the same thing, Delamere has been playing dress up of late. Having discovered a while back his ancestors were fond of travelling by long ship and plundering their neighbours, Delamere has made a two-part documentary, The Only Viking In The Village, due to be screened from November 29.

“I’ve always been interested in Vikings. I wrote a show for Edinburgh in 2007 or 2008 and I decided it would be great to do it over here. In the first part I’m in Dublin learning about Vikings in preparation for going to Denmark and living with people who live like Vikings for a few weeks of the year.

“It’s great fun to do, running around with Viking swords. It would release the inner boy of even the grumpiest man in the world. Simon Cowell, Larry David – get them to put on a Viking helmet and fight a bearded man and the bloodlust will rise within milliseconds. You feel like going out to rape and pillage and burn down a monastery!”

Talking of raping and pillaging, Delamere has recently been trying to make headway understanding the current economic crisis during his stint at Kilkenomics.

“Kilkenomics brings economists and comics together. It was very interesting talking to those guys about what they think is going to happen to the eurozone and Greece and Ireland and if we’re going to default. The idea is that comedians can disseminate the information because we’re not economists. We don’t know the ridiculously complex jargon but we can go, ‘Whoah, what does that mean?’

“I had David McWilliams on one side and Megan Greene, who is an expert in the eurozone and Martín Lousteau, the former finance minister for Argentina, and a former minister of state of the German government. I’m sitting in the middle going, ‘Right, explain to me how this money thing works?’ Jargon in most industries and professions is a way of keeping people out and sometimes you need to say, ‘Tell me exactly what that means. Terms and conditions don’t apply, just tell me exactly what that means.’”

While the country may be down the proverbial crapper, Delamere has spotted a silver lining in an unusual place.

“You know the €3.6 billion that we found down the couch the other day? I’ve decided to be happy about it. There are 450,000 people unemployed, but the people who missed the €3.6 billion are the same people counting the unemployed so I reckon there is only 225,000 people and that in a couple of weeks they are going to say they’ve double counted.”

Politics of a sort have inspired Delamere’s new show and tour, which is called Restructuring.

“I just kept reading in the papers that we need to restructure our debt and we need to restructure our civil service and also my own life has been changed. It’s a catch-all kind of title for all those things.

“A lot of the time when you are writing a show for Edinburgh you have to have a show title by April for a show you’re going to do in August. Basically you’re trying to name a show that doesn’t exist. Then they say, ‘Write a little blurb and tell us what the show is about.’ And you go, ‘Well, it’s a classic mix of banter and material.’ It’s almost a philosophical, Zen way of describing the show. You feel like a psychiatrist. When you’re asked to describe the show, you want to ask, ‘Well, what do you think it should be about?’”

While Delamere is one of Ireland’s most popular comics, he claims that he is not an instantly recognisable face.

“Some people court fame and some people don’t. I prefer to hang out with models in my house so we don’t get papped!” he laughs.

“I go to football matches and the cinema and play a bit of football. I’m not really interested in the rest of it. You can go to every opening if you like – each to their own. Sometimes you get asked to do things. I was asked to do The Restaurant. I told my brother who I used to live with and he was like, ‘Really? The Restaurant? You should go on and make your specialty – scrambled eggs on toast.’ I co


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