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Gary Delaney: There's Something About Gary

Gary Delaney: There's Something About Gary

‘I’m supposed to be a deadpan comedian,’ Gary Delaney says ‘But I laugh at my own jokes because I’m enjoying myself.’

This accurate self-assessment comes in a warm-up for the warm-up, his old pal Steve Day, who gets a lot of mileage out of the time he was a ‘fugitive from the law’. Actually, that’s an overdramatic way of describing him not showing up to give witness evidence in court after one bright copper thought it’d be best to telephone him about the trial date, knowing full well Day is deaf. Such frustrating stupidity about disability is the most productive well for Day’s cheerfully sarcastic anecdotes, especially when it comes from the mouth of Boris Johnson, and he proves a contrasting amuse-bouche for Delaney’s sharp one-liners.

For the Mock The Week regular is the comedian a thousand Twitter-jockeys want to be; crafting tight gags, usually pun-driven and often probing into dark areas. Delaney has some of the best in the business, online or off.

However good he is in140 characters, it’s his experience of 17 years on the circuit that sells them, and Delaney adopts a casual stance when delivering the finely-crafted bon mots. The terse gags are broken up with a running commentary on how the gig’s going. He flatters the audience a lot, assuring them that they are sharp enough for the clever jokes, sometimes without him even finishing the punchline; while also dirty-minded enough to get the sick ones. He may well say this at every town, for all we can tell, but he over-eggs it a bit here in Southend.

He even overtly states that he’s being manipulative by joking about the generic trick of mocking the nearest rival town for an easy, get-the-crowd-onside laugh. But this doesn’t go down nearly as well as the follow-up – when he harshly insults the good people of Basildon. He’s having his cheap shots and deconstructing them.

This is the nearest he comes to banter; for this is a show about getting the jokes out, not making friends, although the fun he’s having on stage with his wordplay easily transmits to the stalls.

Delaney acknowledges that his jokes make him out to be a ‘creepy old man’, although he’s clearly not,. The tone is of a word nerd, pleasing himself with his invention and entertaining his mates with silly gags, told with no truth. In reality, he’s married (to Sarah Millican) but the jokes still have ‘girlfriend’ in them. The only insight we get to his life is that he’s got a dog, and that’s because there are now more punchlines where a pooch gets injured than there were before.

One-liners are packaged in batches of maybe a dozen or so before a separate piece to vary the pace. This mainly comes thanks to a screen that projects some mildly amusing signs he’s seen or better yet, doctored. He’s also a Wikipedia vandal, dropping his gags into the online encyclopaedia, a device that really brings them to life in the context of a supposedly trusted source.

For all the plentiful filth, Delaney’s jokes are in a long music-hall tradition. Conspiring with the audience to let him read from his clipboard of the most potentially offensive jokes brings to mind Max Miller’s asking his music hall audiences to pick whether they wanted samples from his red book or the blue; and they always went blue. One of Delaney’s more innocent jokes, set in a shop, even the silliness of a Ken Dodd line … although this is definitely not a show for Doddy fans.

And while a small number of Delaney’s gags might be the sort of wordplay you might have worked out for yourself, you can indulge him these for the majority that come hard and sneaky out of left-field, and which you’ll mess up when you try to tell them to your mates later. And believe me, you’ll want to do just that.

Saturday 30th Jan, '16
Steve Bennett

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