HE has been described variously as a comedian, television host and historian. In fact, Neil Delamere laughs, “some people would suggest I am none of those things”.
The affable Offaly funnyman is currently starring in a four-part comedy documentary series, Holding Out for A Hero, on RTE Two, maintaining a journey that started with light hearted documentaries on the Vikings and St Patrick, which Delamere wrote and presented and picked up some acclaim and awards.
For the new series, he has looked at four Irish heroes from history, Grace O’Malley, Red Hugh O’Donnell, Cú Chulainn and Fionn Mac Cumhaill.
“I certainly wouldn’t call myself a historian, I am a dilettante when it comes to that,” he laughs. “I just have a massive interest in it, and oddly I didn’t do it in college or even for my Leaving Cert, because somebody told me geography was much easier to get points.
“I am interested in loads of things, I would love to do stuff on science, astronomy - but history is the thing that has, shall we say, lit my candle for the last while, and I certainly wouldn’t describe myself as a historian.
“I think it is slightly insulting to genuine historians - massively insulting when some amateur comes along and all he brings to the table in terms of historical skills is just curiosity,” he laughs.
The show have been well received though, pairing Delamere’s quick wit with historical nous, supplied by UL lecturer Billy Mag Fhloinn this time out.
“If you were to pick the ideal subjects, it would be somebody that people know a few things about, enough to pique their interest, but hopefully, all those things they know are wrong,” he laughs. “Which is exactly what happened with St Patrick. Everything you think you know is entirely wrong.
“It is great fun, somebody asked if we were trying to be a historical myth-buster - wouldn’t it be great if we were. With this series we were just trying to shine a light on these people.”
Delamere has just finished shooting the Blame Game for BBC NI, which he has been doing for almost ten years, but is gearing up to head out on the road for his first love, stand-up, with a gig in the UCH in January, and his Fresh Prince of Delamere tour.
“There is absolutely no nods, a wink, an inflection of my voice that would suggest any link to the Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” he laughs, when asked about the catchy title.
“If you are expecting me to do a Carlton dance you will be sadly let down. Oddly I have never had show title that makes everybody smile before they go into the show.”
Eschewing the comedic format of twisting the stories of the day and political themes into his material, Neil’s new show is in fact far more personal.
“The show is about what has happened to me in the last year,” he says. “I got married in June and convinced my missus to go on honeymoon to Peru,” he laughs.
“Basically it is an hour long apology, that’s what the show is about, rather than spending time in five star luxury, we were climbing a mountain for nine hours and ending up somewhere you have 50% less oxygen.
“She is sitting there furiously writing a note, which is an unusual situation to be in. So it is kind of a process of me saying sorry for that, and other stuff from the last year.”
While he enjoys the camaraderie of making television, he is looking forward to getting back on stage, he admits.
“I always love the live stuff, it is the reason you start and that you keep going. Nothing beats the immediacy of having an audience in the room with you.
“What you gain from the collegiate and collaborative atmosphere of tv and radio in working with other people, you slightly are inhibited by the rules of the format, there is different criteria. Whereas stand-up, what are you limited by? You are limited by the imagination of the audience and yourself and therefore you are kind of limitless, and there is a great freedom in that.
“And it is great craic! You can forget all the high falutin, poetic notions of art and all the rest, it is just brilliant fun.”
Neil Delamere comes to the UCH on Saturday, January 24. See www.uch.ie. The last episode of Holding out for a Hero airs this Monday night, December 22, on RTE Two at 9pm.