Gary Delaney, master of the Puns found the time during his massive Punderland tour to have a quick chat with us.

1. Thanks for your time Gary, the tour has been on the road for a while now, how has it been going? 

I’m 137 dates into this tour  already and its going great. Shows are rocking and nearly all sold out and we keep adding more dates. I’m loving it and it’s great to meet all the new fans who started following me on my social media during lockdown. Also I’ve never had so much time to write a tour show before. An enforced 18 months off meant I had thousands of new jokes already written that I could then whittle down into the 250 best that made the final cut.

2. How does it feel to be back on the road again and what are your favourite and least favourite things about touring?

I love touring. The travel is tiring but the shows are amazing. As a club comic you’re often playing to people who aren’t necessarily fans of what you do, so it can be hard sometimes. As a touring act people know you already, they’ve seen you on TV, or more likely nowadays in clips on line. People who come to my shows love one-liners. They like silly jokes. They like rude jokes. They like dark jokes. They’re not easily offended or taking the things I say literally. They’re not expecting stories, politics or opinions. They just want to laugh a lot, and that’s what I try to deliver. When someone says after a show that their face hurts from laughing I always think ‘But that’s what supposed to happen!’.

It’s genuinely great to be back. My last tour ended prematurely and I didn’t know if I’d ever work again. My old job was as a conference organiser so I couldn’t have gone back to that either. I was trying to think back to the last job I had that I could still have done. I ended up with paperboy.  So yeah, it’s pretty amazing to be back on stage every night to sold out crowds of laughing people.

3. Tell us about Punderland, where did the idea originate from and visually what is it like in your head?

I always try to find a title for the show that basically mentions the fact that the show is full of jokes. Other than that it doesn’t really mean anything. As I say in the intro to the show  the title is just a way of saying that this show is 250 one liners, nob jokes and punds and if you like that sort of thing we’re going to have a great time, and if you don’t like that sort of thing that usually means you’re here with the person you bought the ticket for as a present.

Visually my head is full of hundreds of graphic images representing each joke I use live. Given the subject matter of many of my jokes it’s a pretty distressing sight

4. You wrote the show during lockdown, how did that differ from writing other shows in terms of inspiration?

Not that much to be honest. All of my jokes are set in one-liner land rather than the real world so there’s never been a pandemic and the Scotman, the Rabbi and the parrot are still going into the pub. I tend to avoid topical jokes as I don’t want them to have a short shelf. That’s a waste of a good joke. I try also avoid anything political (too divisive)  or personal (too boring).  Basically all of my jokes are really about language, how we use it and the wonderful ambiguities that throws up. What changed was how I could test my jokes. I  only use the best 5 percent of what I write for live shows. So that means there’s a lot of testing and editing and rewriting to do. It was no longer possible to do this at live shows so I had to do it on zoom instread. Zoom is a poor substitute for live shows but it’s a hell of a lot better than none at all and without it there’s no way I’d have spent three days a week writing rather than watching Netflix in my pants.

5. Do you look for specific things to write puns about when writing a new show or routine? 

I listen to people talking and how they use language especially with new words and in new ways. Most one-liners are reverse engineered and start with something you hear. I hear an everyday phrases and think “I could muck about with that’. I’ll give you an example.

Before my last tour we got a little dog. It was my turn to walk him. As I was leaving the house the wife reminded me ‘Don’t forget poobags’. Talking casually gives you more leeway for jokes. If you are being picky she should have said ‘Don’t forget the poobags’. She didn’t say the ‘the’ because in real life we don’t talk proper, but technically that changes the meaning. The poobags is a noun. Poobags is a proper noun, with a capital P. So now it sounds like someone’s name.  Or nickname. Hence it became this joke.

 I went round Granddad’s to walk his dog. As I was leaving he said ‘Don’t forget poobags!’, I was like ‘Alright, GRAN!! You can come as well’.

6. In terms of inspiration, what about other comics – who had the biggest influence on you starting out? 

Definitely Emo Philips. Adrian Juste used to play his American stand up clips on Radio 1 on Saturday lunchtimes in the 80s. I had a Saturday job cleaning at a garage in Sparkbrook Birmingham and Sarfraz on the till always listened to him so that meant I did too. I was blown away and that was that really.

7. You’re seen as a master of the pun, in your opinion, what makes a good pun? 

A surprise right at the end and a pleasing ‘boom diddy boom’ rhythm plus it always helps if its about something rude. The formula I use most commonly is ‘one long sentence with two commas’. It looks like this:

The set up the misdirection story (1), then the reinforce the misdirection middle beat (2) and then surprise twist right at the end (3) or with an actual joke:

I like to think of my wife as a trophy wife, because her ears stick out, and she’s got the previous winner’s names tattooed up her back.

8. And other than the shows in 2022, what else do you have lined-up now? 

That’s it. No space in my diary for anything else. Touring is always my number one priority. Everything else you do is just a way to get to the tour. This tour runs up until summer 23. I’ll keep touring it until I’ve reached all the people who want to see it. Then I’ll take a couple of months off. Then start previews for the next one and off I go again.

9. Random question time – would you rather babysit a crying infant for a day or have an unwanted houseguest for a week? 

Unwanted houseguest for sure. Less legal complications plus I can be rude until they choose to leave. To be honest I can just be myself until they leave really. That usually does the trick.

10. Thanks for your time Gary and good luck with the tour. Could we ask you to finish this interview off in pun-related style? 

I’ve started signing off my live shows by saying this. ‘As a comedian all I’ve ever really wanted to do is to spread joy. So if she’s in tonight….

Check out Gary’s Pundamentalist tour map for tickets to his remaining shows here

Write A Comment