Walking through the doors of the Gilded Balloon at the Museum and into the auditorium I was greeted with a decent-sized room packed with seating. The seats were filling up fast so I grabbed one in the middle, half way up the steep stairs, trying my best not to tip forward and tumble head first into the crowd in the lower rows. I had no idea what to expect as I awaited for the show to start and, as the audience grew, I realised that I was in the minority by not knowing who Delamere was. A quick look at Twitter and his 23k followers confirmed my ignorance – that’s what happens when you don’t watch TV or listen to the radio I guess. While a part of me regretted not doing any research before the show, the rest of me was glad given that I prefer to go into performances completely blank and without preconceived expectations where possible.
Delamere took the stage and effortlessly opened with a masterful examination of the audience, picking on people and giving them a bit of a grilling, then switching his attention to the seemingly endless number of latecomers who boldly staggered in, arms cradling pints. Delamere didn’t let anyone escape: “What’s your name? What do you do?”
For nearly all of us, the real fun was watching a particularly unlucky one of these latecomers sit stony faced throughout as Delamere made him the butt of several jokes. After interrogating him early in the show for turning up late and being cocky enough to sit in the front row, we laughed as each of his answers came back to bite him as Delamere returned again and again to work those personal details into the punchlines.
Delamere’s show was smart, cohesive and silly. Its structure was built around the time Delamere and his dad delivered meals on wheels together, yet managed to lurch off into wacky tangents, threatening to completely derail. It was rapid-fire but also very clever. For large sections it was like listening to a stream of consciousness ramble that sounded all over the place, but by the end it came together – almost like the nonsense Father Dougal from Father Ted spouted suddenly becoming insightful. The comedy was awash with Irish history, religion and its culture and there were a few times where my complete ignorance of Catholicism had me lagging behind. Of course the audience was made of people from all over the world, together representing a kaleidoscope of beliefs, and for me the finest part of the show was seeing how Delamere could use something as divisive as religion in a way that brought us all together.
Yes, but for God’s sake don’t be late.
Neil Delamere’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Pensioner runs until 27th August at Gilded Balloon at the Museum, 21:00.