The intriguingly-titled Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Pensioner represents something of a new approach for Neil Delamere. The show is framed around a single narrative – a day last year when Neil helped his 82-year-old father deliver the local meals-on-wheels to the elderly, which they had to finish in time for a horse race.
While hilariously describing the experience, and the various characters they meet on their outing, Neil deviates with some uproarious side-stories before bringing everything together in a rewarding finale.
The show – which comes to Blanchardstown and Dun Laoghaire next month – has been a huge success, selling out across the country and drawing a standing ovation when it came to Vicar Street.
Neil told Dublin Gazette that the Vicar Street performance was particularly memorable because his dad was in attendance.
He said: “Dad came to the Vicar Street show and he stood up at the end and sure he got a standing ovation, and he’s getting groupies.
“Like, he’s in his eighties and he has young women asking him for selfies, so he was in his element; he had great craic.
“He had his walking stick with him, and he said: ‘Do you know what that’s for? That’s for warding off young women,’ so he really enjoyed himself.”
Neil is well-known for his observational and topical comedy, so was writing a show with such a narrative arc a harder challenge for him?
“Easier in one way, and harder in another,” he said.
“Harder in the way that it has to have a beginning, a middle and an end, and if you want to tell the story well then you can veer away from it [such conventions], but you have to come back to it so there’s a framework within which you have to operate.
“So, it’s a bit more difficult from that point of view, rather just you going out and getting the weirdest stories that have happened in the last year, which is my normal show.
“But easier in another way because as it was happening I was like okay, this is something interesting because I have an interesting relationship to cover but also because also it has mad stuff happening.”
One of the characters had a rather peculiar request of the Delameres before she would let them leave.
“There was a woman who made me say the Angelus with her,” he says.
“And we were trying to get home in time for horse racing, she made me say the Angelus. So, I’m looking at the clock over her shoulder and she’s saying it as slowly as humanly possible.”
With the tour reaching its final dates, Neil will soon make a welcome return to TV screens this Autumn with the 11th season of the ever-popular topical news and current affairs panel show The Blame Game on BBC Northern Ireland.
Neil stars alongside Colin Murphy, Jake O’Kane and host Tim McGarry on a show that regularly gets more audience share than Graham Norton.
“It’s just gotten bigger and bigger and bigger and the appetite for it is growing and growing and growing,” he says and he credits the BBC for allowing the show to grow.
“Sometimes when you leave something on or certainly when you leave something on, the people on it – like a good football team or something – get to know each other’s rhythms and they start fitting into roles and it just gets better and better and better.”
Social media has also played a role in keeping the stars on their toes.
“Twitter and Facebook has made people work harder on a topical show,” says Neil.
“On a topical show years ago, you could just think of a joke on a subject but now you might have to think of the third or fourth more obscure joke because if you’re filming on a Friday and it happened on a Tuesday, well then maybe Twitter and Facebook have done a lot of jokes on Tuesday and Wednesday so that can elevate the game a little bit more, which is a good thing.”
Neil Delamere will appear at The Pavillion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire on Friday, March 18 and at Draiocht Theatre, Blanchardstown on Saturday, March 19.
Tickets from €21 are available from www.neildelamere.com/gigs.