“I’ve got the memory of an elephant… I remember one time I went to the zoo and saw an elephant” said the much re-tweeted joke from Gary Delaney on Twitter. This gives you a rough idea of what to expect to see him live. Though this is one of his more acceptable jokes. Others are much much darker.
Gary had offered a lot of guest list spots for his Hen & Chickens preview show to be sure to have a good crowd as he was using this gig to test out new material. I was hoping to make it a double bill as Sarah Millican was due to perform first but she was vocanically stuck in Australia till the morning of the gig so her show had been rearranged.
I got to the bar and met fellow comedy stalwarts Sir Bob and @RobOxley before moving upstairs to the theatre. This is the second time I’ve been here in 2 weeks and I do like the venue. It’s small enough to make a microphone unnecessary and Gary soon decided to move it to the side of the stage.
He is a one liner comedian which means he needs a LOT of jokes. And he had certainly come prepared. As well as the “bin of shame” for the jokes that don’t work (and given his style, it’s inevitable that there will be a few duffers) he also used an Ikea bag for the definites, and an improvised Tesco bag for the maybes.
He warmed up with a few killer gags that have been working for some time before he reached for his cards containing his new jokes that he would judge and sentence based on the audience reaction. These were in 3 piles – “Silly”, “La-di-dah” (for people who had read books) and “Horrific”. Needless to say it was the horrific gags that got the biggest reaction, and it’s such fun to see a liberal, largely Twitter-based audience being pushed to the limits which he did with his final gag. I won’t repeat it here as to see it written down would make it look rather harsh and illiberal, but the fact that Gary knew it was probably too far, admitted it beforehand and almost apologised for it somehow made it alright.
I’m not sure if it would be right for the full show, as the danger would be that someone would retell it – “‘ere mate, ‘ere’s a good’un. Gary Delaney told it last night” before going on to ruin it without the explanation. It’s all about the context!
Most of the audience were on the guest list via Twitter, and we found out that 5 people had paid to come to see the show. Gary rather sweetly said to them that if they saw him after the show that he would return their money as they had been “shafted” which provoked an “Awww” from the crowd, which is quite an unusual sound in a comedy club.
I don’t know how many gags he got through last night. I’m roughly guessing 150. But as soon as I left, like often happens at comedy gigs, I could only remember three, though the one about the rape advice line went down well at work earlier.
I think the only thing that could have made the show more enjoyable would have been not sitting behind one of Richard Herring’s least favourite audience members – the overlaugher. At first I thought she was a huge fan just having a good time and was prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt. Then she guffawed at another gag, howling and looking at her boyfriend to get confirmation that he liked it too before saying quietly to him “I didn’t get that one.” Well what are you laughing for???
As I left I passed Gary in the bar and thanked him for putting on this free show and telling him that I enjoyed it and would be seeing himself and Sarah Millican at Fat Tuesday in Islington on June the 8th (and if you have any sense you’d book your tickets early as they will sell out fast). His response was “Oh you’re THAT guy?”
Not 100% sure what that meant, but I wish more people would say that.