Comedian John Lynn chats to The Irish Post ahead of this year's London Irish Comedy Festival Edinburgh Preview Shows, which runs from April 5 to June 14 at The London Irish Centre in Camden.
What makes you laugh?
Politics, sex and religion. And funny videos on YouTube featuring cats, penguins and luminous mice. And my mates. Mostly them to be honest. I’m a lucky bloke with, most of the lads are great story tellers, and have boldness in them to get in a few scrapes and fiascos.
Was having a few pints with Barry Ward last night. He was in great form, was the lead in a Ken Loach movie a few months ago and is the lead in a new project shooting at the moment in London. I’ve seen him have tough times man, been in London for years slugging it out, barely surviving, so we’re all elated for him getting a break you know?
He was telling me off his lowest ebb, trailing as a bike courier delivering microwaves on his bicycle, no word of a lie, on a racer with a f**king microwave on the cross bar cycling nine miles. He’s on less than minimum wage, in the snow, at Christmas when he broke a red light and two cops, also on bicycles, pull him over. Boom, they fine him fifty quid.
They’re processing the fine and some villain called Barry Ward flashes up on a wanted list, a paddy wagon pulls up with 20 more of the Met’s finest wanting to arrest him. They hold him in the f**king snow, shivering in his shorts for an hour before they sort it all out and the courier agency let him go. Gets his wages and he is £4.20 up.
When's the last time you really laughed?
When I dislocated my shoulder about a month ago. They juiced me up with morphine to pop her back in, that made me laugh hard, real hard. But my most robust non intravenous chuckle was on my last visit home to Dublin.
My mate Fergus pulled into a Paddy Powers to back a horse and came away £80 up. We left the bookies full of the joys, got to his car and saw a big yellow clamp beaming out from his front wheel. Release fee: £80. I’d tears in my eyes.
What's the best joke you've ever heard?
Ah well that’s like asking someone their favourite album, who can pinpoint it. My favourite jokes would be routines that go on a bit, but out of short little bits well... Did a gig the other night with a young Swedish lad Anderson, who said: “I was best man at a wedding recently, not officially but I knew.”
Trevor Crooke saying his wife dresses up “in a school girls uniform. She thinks it makes her sexy, I think she just looks like a slow learner.”
Lads have their own style, that what makes it really, like Tommy Tiernan is sublime, paints such vivid pictures in the head like when he was giving out about a priest in Australia being about too young, he said: “You want your priest to look as if the decisions he has made in his life have had a consequence on his face.” Gorgeous stuff all, but with different flavours.
What made you get into comedy?
I was doing the year in Australia thing, living in Melbourne during the comedy festival and went to a couple of shows. I was working on the sites out there and I suppose prancing around a stage talking seemed more attractive than hard labour.
A seed was sown, as a fan of stand up first and then as a participant. I went home became a schoolteacher, and began to believe if I could hold the lunatic children's attention for forty mins I might be able to do the same to an audience for ten.
So I did an open spot and died horrifically. Great experience though as you realise it’s a kick in the nuts, but not the end of the world. Just the end of playing that club for some time...
Who is your favourite comedian?
Tom Stade and Colum McDonnell.
What's the most common misconception about comedians?
That they’re hilarious off stage. Tom and Colum are funny f**kers, you know they are both messers and just naturally gas men, but alot of fellas can be very serious off stage. Not necessarily morose, just very removed from their persona on stage.
I did Tom’s UK tour last year and he likes to go and have a few drinks with the punters after the show, he loves hanging with people and just having banter, but that is rare. Some fellas squirm when the audience approaches post show and are like: dance monkey dance, I’m getting value from this ticket god damn it, say something funny, ga’wawn...
Any situations you just can’t find humour in?
Nope, you can find humour in anything.
I remember reading about a father in Bosnia during the worst of it, hiding out with his family in a cellar below the house during heavy shelling. They emerged to find their house levelled. As they gazed at the flattened wreckage, the father said: “God will you look at the state of this place, it’s like bomb hit it.”
Humour can be found in the darkest situations but in terms of stand up there is shit that people just don’t wanna hear in that setting, and you really have to earn serious trust for them to go with you on that. Alas you’ve to avoid , but personally I don’t believe any subject to be taboo and I can’t stand comedy without some bite.
If it doesn’t give you the faintest tinge of discomfort it is probably asinine and bland. Like a digestive biscuit, you’ll have one with a cup of tea if it’s there but you wouldn’t go to much effort for it, not that bothered either way.
Not that I that shock jock shit either, there’s no skill in that, but getting people feeling a bit bold by laughing at something they may feel they shouldn’t, that’s when stand up gets really interesting, for everybody, performer and punter.
How do you deal with hecklers?
With my voice, brain and a microphone all working in tandem. I don’t mind em.
What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you at a gig?
Was playing Oxegen or maybe the Electric Picnic, few years ago now and I was nervous as hell. I was still a teacher and just delighted to be involved, but anxious that I wasn’t going to be up to it.
Audience were in festival mode, it was a big gig and I was worried I’d be out of my depth. I walk on and some dude who is off his chops starts screaming at me. He’s making no sense, just belting out nonsense. I thought I was f**ked, this lad was drugged up to gills, no verbal witticism was going to save me.
Then to my astonishment a few boys I had thought Leaving Cert English to went up, took yer man by an arm each and removed him from the tent. Gig was a belter after that, and I gradually left teaching. Maybe the lads thought it best for the countries educational system it was best I pursued a career in stand up.
Do your friends and family think you are funny?
Ah yeah I’ve a laugh with the boys. But I am most certainly not the funniest of them. I love going back to Dublin to feed off their funny...
My sisters are wild women and my brother is a great for a yarn, we enjoy our sessions as a family, there’s always a good bit of craic, but my old man wouldn’t really be in stitches. He can be a hard nut to crack. But I’m his kid you know, a 34 year old man with no job security during the worst economic scenario since the great depression. But in fairness to him when he relaxed we’ve good auld laugh.
Is there a difference in UK/Irish humour?
Yup. In soccer parlance, you’ve much more time on the ball in Ireland. Culturally as Irish people, we are steeped in the story. We’ve exchange em, we entertain each other and engage with one another through ‘you’ll never guess what happened to me today’, so Irish audiences appreciate little digressions and lines that mightn’t get big laughs but give things more colour and tone.
In the UK you’ve to get to point quicker. Need laughs every thirty seconds, if you don’t hit that you’ll lose em. Irish people give you a little more leeway.
Should comedians have lines they don't cross? do you?
Nope. But if I do it five times and it doesn’t work, it ain’t funny.
What's your best personal comedy moment to date?
I wanted to improve, just get as good as I could be at this, learn and evolve. And I just felt that wasn’t happening at home, so I got that ferry to London town and started again.
Much to my amazement and delight, the Comedy Store took a look at me offered to manage me. That changed everything for me really, their respectability rubbed off on me. But more than just the ego boost bullshit, it was that they wanted to nurture me, work with me to try and get really good at this shit. I’m a lucky man, and you’ve got to appreciate it when a slice comes your way.
What can we expect from your set at the London Irish comedy festival?
Me on a stage with a microphone.
Tell us a joke right now... See above