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Gary Delaney and the All-Star Stand-Up Show at Birmingham Town Hall - Interview and Preview

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by Andy Coleman (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Birmingham. I like Classic Rock, 70s pop music, football and interviewing celebrities. Follow me on Twitter: @andycoleman9
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Four top comics on one laughter-filled bill
Midland funnyman Gary Delaney plays a hometown gig at Birmingham Town Hall on April 13, 2016.

The 42-year-old comic from Solihull is part of the All-Star Stand-Up line-up that also features Sean Hughes, Jarred Christmas and Pete Firman.

Gary, who married fellow comedian Sarah Millican in 2013, is a regular guest on Mock The Week and 7 Day Saturday and has made appearances on Dave's One Night Stand, Twitter-based panel show Ten Million Comedians, Channel 4's Robert's Web, Loose Ends and Russell Kane's Whistle-Stop Tour. He has also written extensively for TV and radio, including 8 Out Of 10 Cats, League Of Their Own,10 O'Clock Live, The British Comedy Awards and The News Quiz.

Weekend Notes put him on the spot with some questions.

What was the first live comedy show you went to?

I was 18, so this was back in '91. There was a new material night round the corner from my university hall of residence in Islington; it was a pound to get in. I used to watch great acts like Harry Hill, Mark Lamaar, Jo Brand and Simon Munnery go up and try out jokes from bits of paper. The fact that sometimes it didn't work stripped away some of the mystery and helped me think, 'Maybe I could do that'.

Gary Delaney, Pete Firman, Sean Hughes, Jarred Christmas, All-Star Stand-Up Show, Birmingham Town Hall
All-stars: Pete Firman, Gary Delaney, Jarred Christmas, Sean Hughes

Who's your favourite comedian and why?

American Emo Philips as he is the greatest living joke writer in the world. My favourite joke of his is "I got in trouble on a date once, I didn't open the car door for her. Instead, I just swam to the surface."

If you weren't a comedian, what would you be?

The annoying guy in the office who thinks he's funny. I actually used to be a conference organiser, so that's probably what I'd still be doing. In my time doing that I met people like Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan and Tony Blair. I say met; the conversation normally went like this 'The stage is this way, erm, hasn't your security guard got a big gun'.

What's been the best gig of your career so far?

I sometimes do gigs for NABD, a charity for bikers with disabilities. Bikers make an amazing audience, so up for it and completely unshockable. I was doing this gig one summer afternoon in a marquee. It was going well, then halfway through I started really killing it. The audience were rolling around on the floor. I thought 'This is it! I'm now officially a genius!'. Then I realised what had happened; one of the bikers had popped round the back of the marquee for a wee. The bright sunlight was casting a clear silhouette of a weeing man right behind me on stage, and I was the only one who couldn't see it. It looked like a shadow puppet of the Manneken Pis in Brussels, but 20 stone, in a leather jacket and with a can of lager in the other hand.

Gary Delaney, Pete Firman, Sean Hughes, Jarred Christmas, All-Star Stand-Up Show, Birmingham Town Hall
Funnyman: Gary Delaney

How about the worst?

Berlin in 2002.They flew me out and assured me the crowd would speak good enough English to get my jokes. I was following German comics who were ripping it. I thought 'Hang on, Germans are the least funny people in the world, if they're ripping it then how well will I do?'. The answer was very badly indeed. I played for seven minutes to a politely baffled silence. It's one thing to understand a foreign language, it's quite another to understand wordplay. I died so badly they rewrote their guidance for visiting comics to say 'don't do wordplay'. The act before me was a choir of German school children bouncing up and down to a medley of Beatles hits whilst holding torches. How could I have done worse than that? I don't know, but I did. 'It's lovely to be here in Berlin, I've never been here before but my Granddad used to visit regularly... when he was in the RAF'. Opening lines are so important aren't they? To make things worse, at the end of the night we all had to go back on stage and do a curtain call. I was drunk by then though.

What do you do when you're not working?

I watch horror, especially zombie films. I've even written one. As a man in his 40s with disposable income and no kids I have a room in my house that is just full of horror memorabilia. I call it my zombie room. My specialist subject on Celebrity Mastermind was the zombie films of George Romero. I got ten out of eleven, but didn't win as my general knowledge is pants.

Gary Delaney, Pete Firman, Sean Hughes, Jarred Christmas, All-Star Stand-Up Show, Birmingham Town Hall
Comic line-up: Gary Delaney, Sean Hughes, Pete Firman, Jarred Christmas

Who's in your dream comedy club line-up? Alive or dead.

Emcee: Daniel Kitson (peerless improviser), opener: Woody Allen (an incredible club comic, his material ages well which is very rare), middle: Henny Youngman (he wrote 'Take my wife, please') and Max Miller (the music hall gag king), closer: Mitch Hedberg (another gag legend whom I never got to see).

Can you learn to be funny, or is it something that has to come naturally?

Lots of people have the base quality of being witty. That's not so rare. Learning how to harness it? Very rare indeed. It takes many years of hard work and focus to get any good.

With so much comedy available online and on TV, why should people come and see live stand-up?

Because I've got two cats and a dog to support. Plus stand up doesn't translate on telly. It's a live medium. How does the performer relate to an audience through a screen? You can't. How do you take your timing from a telly audience? You can't.

Gary Delaney, Pete Firman, Sean Hughes, Jarred Christmas, All-Star Stand-Up Show, Birmingham Town Hall
Venue: Birmingham Town Hall

The All-Star Stand-Up 2016 UK tour dates:

Apr 12: Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury;
Apr 13: Town Hall, Birmingham;
Apr 15: Town Hall, Cheltenham;
Apr 17: Assembly Hall, Tunbridge Wells;
Apr 20: Octagon Theatre, Yeovil;
Apr 21: Corn Exchange, Newbury;
Apr 22: Grand Theatre, Swansea;
Apr 23: The Swan, Wycombe;
Apr 24: Palace Theatre, Southend;
Apr 26: Grand Theatre, Lancaster;
Apr 27: Gala Theatre, Durham;
Apr 28: Theatre Royal, Lincoln;
Apr 29: Beck Theatre, Hayes;
Apr 30: GLive, Guildford;
May 1: Derby Theatre;
May 3: Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield;
May 4: Arts Centre, Warwick;
May 5: Haymarket Theatre, Basingstoke;
May 6: Mercury Theatre, Colchester;
May 7: Theatre Royal, Margate;
May 8: Rose Theatre, Kingston;
May 10: Cressett Theatre, Peterborough;
May 11: Alban Arena, St Albans;
May 12: Festival Theatre, Malvern;
May 13: Glyndwr Theatre, Wrexham;
May 14: Orchard Theatre, Dartford;
May 15: Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmonds;
May 16: New Theatre, Cardiff;
May 18: The Lowry, Salford Quays;
May 19: Playhouse Theatre, Nottingham;
May 20: Courtyard, Hereford;
May 21: Memorial Hall, Frome.

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Why? Four funny guys for the price of one
When: April 13, 2016 at Birmingham Town Hall, then touring till May 21.
Phone: 0121 345 0600
Where: Town Hall, Birmingham, then touring
Cost: 23 plus fees
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