Neil and his Northern brethren . . .

Stand up comedian Neil Delamere who brings his new show 'Restructuring' to the Playhouse on March 2.
Stand up comedian Neil Delamere who brings his new show 'Restructuring' to the Playhouse on March 2.

Offaly comedian, IFTA award winner and one of the funniest men in Ireland, returns to Derry tonight when Neil Delamere, star of RTEs The Panel and BBCs The Blame Game returns to his “first love” when he brings his one man stand up comedy show to Derry.

Derry is a place Mr. Delamere is looking forward to returning to: “The Playhouse is always an unbelieveably good gig, it is both a great space and a great audience. it is just brilliant crack. Derry is one of the places you have to go on tour to, as long as there are audiences willing to see me I’ll keep coming,” promised Neil.

“Like a lot of comedians I suppose I have fond memories of the Del’ and doing competitions th3ere. I don’t remember much of what I said I must have blocked all that out. but seriously the NorthWest has been great to me, Derry is one of those places you must play on any Irish tour. there is Derry, Vicar Street and Cork - you can’t get away with leaving any of them out.

“Stand up comedy is my first love, it is as simple as that. TV might be good crack but you know it only exists to complement the stand up tours. If given the choice between TV or stand up, stand up wins, there’s no contest. I enjoy TV and especially The Panel but I’ve always kept touring. It is basically the same touring as The Panel as you have to be topical.”

Neil seemingly spends more time north of the border than his comedic contemporaries: “I have a good time in the North, especially with The Blame Game - I’ve learnt a lot about my Northern brethren just thanks to that show. I think the people in the North have a darker sense of humour than they do down south and stand up comedians are naturally drawn to that darker side.”

Last year Delamere presented RTE’s ‘The Only Viking in the Village’, an exploration of all things Viking. The programme won an Irish Film and Television Award in the factual category. As Neil recalls: “I was at the IFTAs thinking how did I get here?”

Neil had to get to the IFTAs following a sell-out show in Vicar Street. “Well the day job comes first,” laughs the comedian.

“When I did get there I was sitting in the same room as Michael Fassbender and the cream of Irish telly, me with my big Midlands head on me thinking ‘How did this happen?’”

And how did it happen?

“Well I was at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and there is nearly 700 shows on, all with about an audience of four. I thought I’ll write myself a little niche show. I’ll say right now that was a mistake, it was not as popular as I thought but when I returned to Ireland I had all this research done. Then we got the funding and the rest as they say is history.”

The question for all Irish comedy fans however has to be is The Panel ever likely to return?

“We’d love to come back, we haven’t been officially retired but after eight or 9nineyears you ask yourself has it run its course. But it is like everything else comedians are sub-contractors so if we got the call we could be re-activated very quickly.”

Neil will perform his brand new show Restructuring in The Playhouse Theatre, Derry tonight Friday March 2. For further information on how to book tickets visit www.neildelamere.com