Portsmouth plays host to Gary Delaney: The best value comic money can buy

Gary Delaney's show Gagster's Paradise is at the New Theatre Royal on July 18. Photo by Andy Hollingworth.Gary Delaney's show Gagster's Paradise is at the New Theatre Royal on July 18. Photo by Andy Hollingworth.
Gary Delaney's show Gagster's Paradise is at the New Theatre Royal on July 18. Photo by Andy Hollingworth.
If you believe in getting value for money, and like a laugh, then Gary Delaney is the comic for you.

The one-liner specialist is bringing his current show Gagsters Paradise to Portsmouth as part of a mammoth UK tour.

‘We kept on adding dates because they kept on selling out, which is nice.

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‘We started in September last year, August if you count Edinburgh, and now it’s going through until March next year.

Gary Delaney promotes Gagsters Paradise. Photo by Andy Hollingworth.Gary Delaney promotes Gagsters Paradise. Photo by Andy Hollingworth.
Gary Delaney promotes Gagsters Paradise. Photo by Andy Hollingworth.

‘But it takes me ages to write a show, so frankly, I will take it everywhere people want to see it, and if it sells out, I’ll take it there again and again until it doesn’t!

‘I’m just putting off the day until I have to write a new one,’ he laughs.

But when you realise what Gary puts into writing a show, his desire to milk this one as much as possible becomes understandable.

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‘When I was doing the early versions of this show I had a spreadsheet of every joke, grading how it went at every show, and when I tried alternate versions and with words in different places, and how that went down.

‘I’m pretty anal like that, so yes, I’m very picky on that.

‘Now, I only keep five per cent of what I write, because if you’re doing one-liners, they all need to be really good. 

‘You get rid of all the mediocre ones – obviously you get rid of the rubbish ones, but there’s also loads that are kind of all right, they’re pretty good. But “okay” won’t do either, so they’ve got to go. I keep one in 20 of what I write, so I write 4,000 jokes to whittle it down to keep the ones I want.’

He reckons the show now has ‘probably getting on for 300’ jokes, ‘and depending on how keen people are, there’s also a warm-up on the computer which shows old jokes and things from my Twitter, so that’s another joke every 12 seconds. 

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‘Last time I checked there were 240 on there, so if you really want to sit and watch everything, from that, and my act, that’s about 500 jokes – that’s not including the support act.  

‘I like to give people value for money, I like to think on a per-joke basis, it’s the cheapest show they’ll ever see.’

Gary, who has been a Mock the Week regular and on the Live at The Apollo Christmas special two years running, has a very definite idea of what he’s on stage to do.

‘That’s what a comedian’s job is, if someone comes out of my show and says their face hurts from laughing, that’s what’s supposed to happen, isn’t it?

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‘I’m not there to tell you a story, or to give you my opinions and to change your mind on stuff or to witter on or whatever – I’m there to make you laugh as much as I can, so I fit in as many jokes as I can.’

And definitely don’t expect him to take you on a ‘journey’ in his show.

‘To my mind, too many people think the stage is a place for polemics or sad stories, it’s not about that –  don’t show them how sensitive you are or how informed you are – show them how funny you are!

‘Don’t get me wrong, other people do different types of comedy and if they like it and their audience likes it, fab, but I’ve made my stall pretty clear – it’s just a huge amount of jokes and if you like that sort of thing you’re in for a good time.

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‘If you’re hoping for some high art, or Shakespeare, or storytelling, this is probably not the show for you.’

Given that he’s been plying his trade since the early 2000s, he adds: ‘People who come to my shows pretty much know who I am now.

‘There’s no narrative, I’m not trying to tell a story, even within the same show I’m married in this joke, I’m single in this joke, I’m gay in this joke... It doesn’t really matter, does it? It’s not about me.

‘They know it will be a load of one liners, some will be silly, some will be rude, some will be a bit poor taste, and even when I do something bad it’s just like a pantomime villain, it’s not real, so the right people come along and we all have a laugh.’

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 Social media has played a big role in Gary’s career. An early adopter of Twitter, he’s changed the way he uses it over the years.

‘When I first started on there about 10 years ago there weren’t so many people on there and I could use it to test out material on a few hundred followers, and it wasn’t a very big thing.

‘Now it’s become such a big thing and I’ve got so many followers, if I put a joke on there I can’t really use it any more. If it takes off, it can get seen by millions of people within days. 

‘If I put something on there now, it tends to be something that worked quite well but didn’t make the grade, or they’ll be jokes that are topical or only work written down. But broadly speaking Twitter is all jokes I thought were good, but not good enough for the paying punters – they’re the B-grade jokes.

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‘Plus it’s a great way to market yourself. Comedy has become like music, you’ve got to give away free content to get people in.’

 And to that end he has recently performed and recorded two of his old tours, as a gift to his fans – and a canny marketing tool.

‘My first two tours never got recorded on DVD, so I recorded them myself and I’ve paid an editor to mix those and cut them and I’ll put it all out for free online as well.

‘It will go up soon and hopefully people will like it and then come and see a show.’

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 It was seeing how his television appearances are being consumed that helped Gary decided to recrod the old material. 

‘For comics of my generation it’s always been about telly, you get your big spot, bang, bang, bang.

‘My first Live at The Apollo, it got one or two million watching it when it was broadcast, but the BBC put the clip on their Facebook page and last time I looked it had been seen by 15m people, never mind all the other people who’ve posted it and shared it around.

‘So more of the people come to see me in the show have seen me in clips on their phone than on Mock The Week. 

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‘That’s why I thought: I’ve got two old shows just sitting in my notebooks doing nothing, what’s the point of that? Let’s go and record them.

‘My first two tours weren’t that big, they sold well, but this one is much bigger. A lot of people haven’t seen most of that material, they might have seen the bits that ended up on Live at The Apollo or Mock The Week, but they haven’t seen the stuff you’re not allowed to do on telly, so that’s why I’ve done it.’

 As he admits, if he wants to continue at this level, he’s got to adapt to survive.

‘The truth is, as you get older, the harder it is to get on telly. I still do a few bits and pieces, I can’t complain, but they’re not queuing up to put me on.

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‘Obviously I’d like to do more, but I’m not going to sit and wait for people to give me opportunities, not given how this industry works. You only get one life and one career, so I’m going to make stuff happen.’


New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth

Thursday, July 18


 A few of Gary’s gags


I think the hardest part of making skimmed milk must be throwing the cows across the lake.

I like to annoy my Israeli flatmate by giving him any post that’s just address to the occupier.

I’m not saying I’m unlucky but when I tried to buy a sofa at DFS the sale had finished.

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One time there was a fire at a voodoo doll factory and 10,000 people died.

I’ve written a letter to the Royal Mail to complain about my post being stolen. To make sure they see it, I’ve put it inside a birthday card.

Every Christmas day we always have pigs in blankets, or as you probably call it, relatives sleeping in the spare room.

The other day a woman described me as a bit of a looker, well ‘voyeur’ is the actual word she used.

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I was actually thrown out of Weight Watchers for making sarcastic comments at the weekly weigh-in. As you can imagine I accepted the decision with huge grace, because they threw her out as well

My girlfriend’s dog died and to cheer her up I bought her an identical one, she was livid, ‘what am I going to do with two dead dogs?’

I went to see a polish Pink Floyd tribute band, not only were they cheaper but they played The Wall in half the time.

In Cornwall the marriage guidance service is called Related.

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I went to buy a Christmas tree and the guy said are you putting it up yourself I said, no I was thinking the  living room.

I always worry when a woman sees me naked for the first time she’s just going to scream and run out of the park

I’ve got the memory of an elephant, I remember one time I went to the zoo and I saw an elephant.

The President of France said this week that English speakers were arrogant in their refusal to learn other languages, at least I think that’s what he said. But it all just sounded like haw he saw he haw he haw.

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It’s been a tough week, I bought myself a memory foam mattress and now it’s trying to blackmail me.

I was in a fancy lingerie shop and I said are these knickers satin, they said no they’re new.

I tell you what always catches my eye, short people with umbrellas.

I took a poll recently and 100% of the people were quite annoyed that their tent had fallen down.