Pete Austin has interviewed the headliner of our first event in 2016 to add to our list of exclusive interviews, read on for some amazing insights in the life of the much loved and admired Comedian Patrick Monahan.
An exclusive interview with Patrick MONAHAN
The year 2016 has started much the same as the whole of 2015 for Patrick Monahan.
Our telephone conversation was punctuated by the sounds of platform announcements, whistle blasts and the grunts of trains pulling away from the station. The comedian was waiting for the connection to continue his journey from Manchester where he had performed the previous night to his gig in Sheffield that night. It would be another train journey to London for the following night’s show.
“I should have shares in all the rail operators,” he told me. “I spend at least three to four hours every day travelling between gigs. I just love stand-up, it’s my day job. It’s a weird profession, I see people going to work doing their shifts, something I remember from my early days when I once did shift work in a factory. I do longer hours but it’s not hard graft like the junior doctors who are putting in 90 hours a week. On average I was doing 13 gigs a week but I know how to pace myself, it all comes down to experience. In the early days I only stopped if I was ill now I do take breaks, maybe two days off a month or, if I am lucky, one day a week. The thing is, I love my work so much I never say no.”
It was this constant work level that earned Patrick the accolade of being the country’s busiest stand-up comedian of 2015, appearing in more shows than any of his contemporaries – which he told me was somewhat ironic as it excluded the two months he was doing a comedy play and the month he spent in panto.
Being so busy it is hard to imagine there is any time left to work on new material but the ever resourceful Irish/Iranian/Geordie has everything in hand.
“Actually, many times I am writing my material on all those train journeys. Throughout the day I may have written down some observations on a piece of paper or on my phone. I get these out and see if I can put any of it into a routine – things like overheard conversations. Real life can sometimes deliver the best comedy material. One day I spent the first ten minutes on a train listening to a group of people telling each what they had been up to. It came in handy for the gig that night as it was all about the local area. I was able to turn up and introduce some of this local flavour in my set, which is so much better than turning up with a script.”
Patrick had just told me of his hidden talents, in which he listed eating cake, hugging (holding a 25 hour and 25 minute record), dancing and talking (25 hour record) which he practises every day when another whistle blast interrupted our conversation. It momentarily left my ear ringing and my subject’s voice phasing somewhat in my head. Normal service however was soon resolved and, being the start of a new year, appropriately turned to the subject of New Year resolutions.
“Yeah, I do make them,” he enthused, “just the other day I was looking back at those I made for 2015. Very few people I know keep a Filofax, every time I take mine out it raises a laugh. Yes I have an iPad and iPhone but I still like writing things down and each year I always scribble a couple or so resolutions on the front pages. Last year I had six or seven and can say I kept three or four of them which is about 50 per cent which isn’t bad. The others were just silly things which you know deep down you would never keep.”
Interviewee, panel member, studio warm-up comedian, radio show guest presenter, Patrick has done them all but it is stand-up which he enjoys the most. Over the years he has seen and experienced the many highs and lows that go with the job.
“One of the happiest moments is finishing a festival at the end of a month after doing seven gigs a day. I remember finishing a run at the Edinburgh Festival and was taking part in what they call the Late Show on the last night. I finished my set by crowd surfing. Now that needs a lot of trust in your audience. Crowd surfing during an afternoon or evening set is one thing but at three in the morning when the audience has been drinking all night is another, but it was great, they didn’t let me down – literally.
“At the other end of the scale I was in Shoreham one night and there was a drunken fellow in the front row and towards the end of the gig insisted his wife join me on stage for a dance routine (prompted by his moves on Let’s Dance for Sport Relief). Well, we did the Dirty Dancing routine but she was hammered and when she jumped on me and put her legs around me I felt a warm patch on my shirt, her bladder had gone. I had to complete my set with a wet shirt, she was totally embarrassed… but the audience thought it was hysterical and didn’t stop laughing.”
He is confident that will not happen at Kettering Arts Centre, a venue with which he is familiar and likes to include in his annual tours.
“I love that venue, it’s great. This time I am headlining a comedy club and will be with a couple of other acts but I was there last year with my solo act and hope to go back later this year with my new solo show. I like to get back there as often as possible, it’s a wonderful setting in the church.”
As a regular performer at KAC, most of the audience will be familiar with Patrick’s style of presentation. He believes a good comedian should be able to play to an audience which includes children and adults of all ages and deliver material that will not offend any of them or have parents covering up the ears of their children.
“Each comedian has to find his or her own audience and what I like is someone who can play to everyone.
“I’m definitely a half full room and always have to be positive. I think as being a comedian and entertainer you have to look for all the positive stuff in life. If I was negative and focused on all the bad stuff I don’t think many people would come to me shows, only the people who believed the end of the world is nigh!
“ I think we are lucky that British comedy covers a wide range of material from the really clean to the dark and shocking but I believe that comedy as it was back in the old days is coming back again.”
Patrick is coming back again to KAC on Saturday, January 16. Doors open at 7.30pm for an 8pm start and tickets, cost £9 (Concessions £7). For full details please click here.
Tickets for this event are available from Waterstones, High Street, Kettering, by post from Jaime Ferreira to 4 Litchfield Close, Kettering NN16 9BS (cheques made payable to “PCC of St Andrew’s Kettering”).