I regularly listen to Stuart Goldsmith’s Comedian’s Comedian podcasts but I don’t usually review them. The latest one is so good, however, that I have made an exception. Goldsmith interviews Dara O’Briain and the result is something that all aspiring comedians should listen to. There are some fantastic tips on comedy here.
In a way O’Briain almost gives too much away, revealing the mechanics behind his acclaimed shows. He lets us in on his “Trust-Me-I’m-A-Comic” routine at the start of each gig before he gets stuck into the proper set and even confesses to the precise number of laughs he aims to get before he moves on to the next stage.
There is also a great section here about always making notes. I remember years ago reading that writers should always carry a pen and notebook in their waistcoat pocket because you never know when inspiration is going to strike. Goldsmith reminds Dara of the time the Irish superstar took out his smartphone and made a note of something during a chat they had at Ben Norris’ 40th birthday booze-up that he thought he could turn into a routine.
It should have been obvious already, but what is clear here is how hard O’Briain works when developing a new set. He adheres to a very firm timetable too. With his current show he planned to have 30 minutes ready for Kilkenny, 45 minutes for Latitude (which I saw and it was amazing), 90 minutes for Edinburgh, then 2 hours when the tour starts. The skeletal bare bones are there at the very start, but each routine grows.
And for those that criticise comedians for doing corporate gigs it turns out that this is also a handy way of getting material. O’Briain recalls learning that there were different kinds of nails and different kinds of walls when he hosted a hardware industry dinner. If this hasn’t made it into his act yet the observation probably will at some point.
There is also some interesting talk on the podcast about the way Mock The Week has changed. It has much younger panellists now and has a much more conversational, less combative approach. O’Briain probably likes this as he is certainly no slouch at conversation. I really enjoyed his interview with Stephen Hawking on BBC1 last week – the fastest talker in the world meeting the slowest talker in the world.
Anyway back to this podcast. As I've hopefully made clear, I strongly recommend that anyone thinking of a comedy career listens to it. The only trouble is that O’Briain is so sharp and so funny here that you may well decide to give up because you will realise you will never be as talented as him however hard you work.
Find the Dara O’Brian interview and all the other Comedian’s Comedian podcasts here.