Interview: David O’Doherty

Just doing stand-up all the time ruins your brain and causes you to disappear up the leg of your own trousers. All that examination of your own life, it’s bad for you.

Described (by himself, assumedly) as the ‘Aldi Buble’ or the ‘Ryanair Enya’, David O’Doherty is one of Ireland’s most cherished funnymen. Armed with his trusty 1986 Yamaha keyboard and a ton of hilarious world-wearied observations, the Dubliner brings his 17th live show Big Time to The Leadmill later this month. Andy White caught up with him beforehand to get a flavour of what we can expect.

Amazingly, this is your 17th live tour. How would you say your comedy has developed since your first show, ‘The Story of the Boy Who Saved Comedy’?
A lot. I know it looks like somebody just standing there, gabbing, but it takes so, so long to get any good at stand-up comedy. I listened back to a recording of that first show recently and I’d rather have drunk a pint of wasps, to be honest with you.

Talk to us a bit about your latest show, ‘Big Time’. What should we be expecting?
My shows always sound so lame when I try to describe them, but here goes! There will be some sitting down, there will be some standing up, and also some songs on an awful piano. Spoiler alert number one: I set out to fix everything that’s wrong in the world at the moment. Spoiler alert number two: I fail.

You’ve won just about every prestigious comedy award going, but how does this compare to your 1990 East Leinster under-14 triple jump bronze medal?
That was certainly the pinnacle of my sporting career, and it remains the only award I have hanging on my wall.

Your trusty keyboard is never far from your side and, like a fine wine, 1986 appears to be your vintage. But what’s your favorite – Casio or Yamaha?
I mean, I could go on for hours here. Of the mid-80s keyboards, Casios have the best beats, but Yamaha have the best sounds. The Yamaha PSS-170 plays Billy Joel’s ‘Don’t Go Changing’ as its demo tune! That’s an absolute beaut. Especially when it switches on in mid-flight and your suitcase arrives on the carousel, blaring it out for all to hear. That happened once.

You’ve recently penned and released a children’s book, ‘Danger is Everywhere’. How did you find being an author for a bit instead of doing stand-up?
Just doing stand-up all the time ruins your brain and causes you to disappear up the leg of your own trousers. All that examination of your own life, it’s bad for you. So it’s really nice to have something completely different that you can escape to. Writing children’s books is like a form of escapism for me. I’ve just finished a tour of reading the latest book in schools. Those sort of gigs are so much harder than these shows though. Tough crowds.

Let’s finish with some quick-fire questions, starting with your desert island record. What album are you taking?
There are a few albums that I always go back to. I like jazz a lot. But for now I’ll say Good News For People Who Love Bad News by Modest Mouse.

And what book is going to the island with you?
Pastoralia by George Saunders. Incredible short stories. Some of them are online. Search out ‘Sea Oak’ if you want to get a taste.

The film that changed my life is… ?
I saw Harold and Maude when I was probably slightly too young to get it fully, and it absolutely blew my mind.

The best comedy gig I’ve ever been to is… ?
I saw Mitch Hedberg at The Kilkenny Cat Laughs Festival in 1998 and he was doing a different thing to everyone else I’d seen up to that point.

The actor I’d like to play me in a film would be… ?
Can it be a claymation?

Of course. This is your gig.
I’ll be a dachshund, voiced by Jim Broadbent. Obviously.

I’d love to sing a duet with… ?
I wrote a duet for Shakira and myself. But she never turns up at my gigs to sing it with me. So I do it all myself and do a horrific impersonation of her. So I think I’ll nominate Shakira here.

David O’Doherty: Big Time arrives at The Leadmill on Jan 21st. Get tickets and more info from

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