So you’re playing the Comedy Store while you’re in Sydney then?
It’s going to be great craic. I really enjoy Australian audiences I have to say, compared to some of the other audiences I’ve played around the world. Aussie audiences are up for it generally. Not in terms of getting too involved or heckling or anything like that, but they’re up for a laugh. If you’re bantering withthem and you ask them a question, they’ll answer you, they’re not shy. Whereas other countries are sometimes a bit more reserved. I’ve done gigs in Scandinavia, Holland I find quite reserved, Kiwis even are quite reserved.
Feeding off the audience is quite a big part of your act isn’t it?
Yep, to a certain extent. I take each gig individually.
Do you enjoy getting heckled? See it as an opportunity?
No, ha. I would much prefer not to have to deal with it. The thing with heckling is that the heckler doesn’t know what he’s interrupted. You could have the most amazing story in the world and the rhythm is lost. Sometimes if you heckle, you’re doing yourself out of hearing something good. If given a choice I wouldn’t have a heckler in the audience.
You must have had some weird ones over the years?
When I started doing stand up, I’d just go for them you know. But after a while you realise not every heckle is a bad thing, some are for encouragement, so if someone shouts out “well done” and you slam them, you look like a tool. I shaved a guy at a gig once. That was weird. Ha.
Was that planned?
Ha, no I don’t bring a razor and shaving foam around on the off chance. It was a great craic. He was a young lad, about 19, with a great Grizzly Adams beard and he looked 40. I just said: “We gotta get rid of that.” It was a student gig where nearly anything goes so I said: “If somebody goes out and gets me a razor, then we’ll have him shaved by the end of the gig.”
I’d forgotten about it, but then with about a minute left, this guy ran in, red-faced and panting and held up a Mach3 razor like it was a trophy. So I had to shave the guy.
Are you seeing much of Oz while you’re Down Under?
I’d love to go out to the Blue Mountains and I’d love to go on abushwalk and learn about Aboriginal culture and eat one of them witchetty grubs. Last time I was here I climbed Sydney Harbour Bridge. That was great craic.
Is it true you’re banned from Ryanair?
I basically did a gig with Michael O’Leary, who’s the head of Ryanair. I was introducing him and might have taken the piss a little too much. He took it in good stead, I’m pretty sure I’m not banned, but I did make a show of him in front of 700 people. The organisers said: “He’s worth like half a billion euro and he’s doing this for nothing so please don’t mess with his introduction.”
But I thought, you’re never going to get this opportunity again so I kind of had to. The introduction was: “In 1987, Ryanair carried 5,000 passengers across Europe. In 2007 they carried 20 million passengers across Europe. Out of those, 10 million got to the country they’d booked and got their bags.” He started slagging me back and so I just started slagging him to fuck, it was great craic like. He didn’t give a shit.
Lot of Irish comics come to Australia. What’s the attraction?
There a certain historical connection between the two places. Also you know they’re similar in sense of humour and reference points. More often it’s just that we’re looking for some sun. You can dress it up with some beautiful, philosophical reason, but I haven’t seen the sun in about four years and I would like to see that big shiney disc in the sky. It’s an amazing place Australia, completely unique.
Neil is playing the Comedy Store Sydney from now until Saturday 18 July. Tickets from $10-$30. For more information call 02 9357 1419 or visit www.comedystore.com.au