The punter who stole a police car | Fred Cooke recalls his most memorable gigs

The punter who stole a police car

Fred Cooke recalls his most memorable gigs

First gig

It was in the student bar in University College Dublin. My mates got me so drunk that I wasn't that coherent on stage. Funny, but for all the wrong reasons.

The next day there was a review of the show in the College Observer saying: ‘Fred Cooke has a great presence on stage, even though I couldn't understand one single word he said.’

I don't think I gigged again until three years later. It was also the first and last time I've been on stage drunk.

Gig that taught me the biggest lesson

I saw Kevin McAleer in front of a crazy Sunday music festival crowd six years ago. I was amazed how he walked out into chaos and slowly but surely, made the crowd work around him. He's a genius!

The lesson it taught me was to take your time and let the audience acknowledge you. This was a massive lesson for me as I was such a high-octane comedian who wasn't able to surf the actual energy of a crowd in front of me. After seeing Kevin McAleer that day, I started to own the stage a bit more without rushing into anything.

Strangest audience member

A guy in Belfast one night stood up and started taking pictures of a group of girls the other side of the room. After he was kicked out, he then got into a police car and drove it into a wall. Thankfully no one was killed. I've had loads of strange events but that one stood out.

Most unusual location

I once did a gig in a hotel room in a small southern town called Dingle. Even though lots of tickets were sold, very few people turned up.

The hotel room was divided into two. One side was my comedy gig, and the other side was a funeral with the actual human remains laid out. So I could hear laughter and tears at the same time.

When someone local dies in a community Irish town, everybody goes no matter what other event might be taking place. I nearly died on stage myself that night.

Best gig as a punter

Jerry Seinfeld in Dublin. I thought he was going to struggle but it was one of, if not the best, gigs I've seen. It was the most beautifully phrased shows. Nothing was wasted in his comical execution.

He's a master of jokes. His stand-up on Seinfeld the sitcom, did him no favours when you consider how brilliant a stand-up he actually is. He's probably the best example of how to execute the perfect joke. Not giving away too much or too little.

Fred Cooke: Fred Space is on at the Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose at 18:30 daily

Published: 16 Aug 2019

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