Comedy Month: Patrick Monahan Q & A

October 17, 2011

In our continued effort to promote comedy in the Corporate Events industry, we've managed to collar the ever-so-in-demand winner of ITV's Show Me The Funny, Patrick Monahan. The Part-Irish/Part-Iranian funnyman was kind enough to answer a couple of questions about his experience on the show and the way he approaches corporate comedy gigs. Read on for his answers...

Hello, Patrick! How the devil are you?

I'm over the moon thank you! It’s been a hell of a year and we’ve still got the autumn/winter to come. I can’t believe that shops are already stocking Christmas stuff and I’ve been walking outside in T-shirts – you can’t get more confused than that!
People might recognise you from your triumphant appearance on ITV’s Show Me the Funny, have you had more corporate work as a result of the show?

‘Show me the Funny’ has been a great experience, it was amazing fun doing it and I met some lovely people along the way. I was lucky that before the show I was already quite busy doing comedy clubs, art centres and a few corporate events but since doing the show we’ve definitely had much more interest from corporate bookings, which is a great sign. Sometimes a TV show can put a company off booking someone, I’ve seen it many times where a company won’t book a comedian simply on a short clip they’ve seen on telly or on the internet. The best way for someone to book you is to come and see you perform live, “try before you buy” as my Nan always said – which was the main reason she got banned from the local supermarket...
Obviously your profile has increased significantly since winning the competition – do you think a corporate audience needs to be able to recognise a comedian if they’re performing at an event?

I definitely think it helps. If people have already seen you on a TV show, it will be a lot easier for you to get them laughing straight away, as they won’t need to spend the first couple of minutes trying to work out your accent, your style of comedy and if your funny or not! Whereas if they’ve already seen you on TV making an audience laugh, they feel like they know you before you’ve even spoken.

How do you think your act has changed over the course of Show Me the Funny?

My act has always been quiet conversational and involves a bit of interaction and banter with the audience. Before doing the TV show and getting feedback from the judges, I would go off on tangents and riff on things the audience would say. I wouldn’t say that I have lost anything but I can now pack in more jokes and banter with the audience; it's just a more structured act than before.
The show required you to perform in different cities for hugely different crowds; you went from High School students to Rugby Players to Nurses within the space of a few weeks. Who was hardest to win over?

All of the audiences were fun in their own way. I’d say the hardest bit was performing to 3 judges who sat there analysing every word you said and marked down every joke you did on a notepad. The Army and the Welsh rugby players were definitely the most drunk – but it was still a laugh to do!
It seems a lot like performing for the corporate market, where rather than playing to a mixed audience, you’re often playing to a room full of IT technicians or financial consultants – do you think the show has helped you when it comes to dealing with different corporate audiences?

Definitely, the show was like doing a corporate gig each week, except the audience had more weapons – particularly at the Army! The fun thing about doing a corporate gig is that beforehand you can have a chat with the company officials to get some background on the characters within the company - whereas with the TV show we weren’t allowed to mingle or speak to the audience at all.
Much of your act is about your Part Irish / Part Iranian heritage with a touch of growing up in Middlesbrough in there too – do you think having such an unusual mix of cultural identities helps you appeal to more people? Or does it make it harder?

When you're starting out in comedy, having anything that makes you stand out is vital. It’s no good just being a funny northern comic if you’re on a bill with 12 other funny northern comics. In the beginning you have to play smaller gigs where you're on with 12-15 other comics hoping to get spotted so that you can progress to the professional paid gigs, where there are only 2-3 comics on the bill! Being half Irish/half Iranian and growing up in the north of England with a Teesside accent certainly made me stand out, but as you progress and get more experienced you need to broaden your material because you don’t want to be pigeon holed.

How do you approach corporate gigs differently from a normal set?

With a corporate gig you do have to tailor your act to them, but that's pretty much the same way you’d do a normal set in a comedy club or theatre. For instance, the set I’d do in a comedy club in London would be different to a set I’d do in a Glasgow comedy club, mainly due to references and material. The same with a corporate gig; I would tailor the material to the company that I’m performing to and the location of the event. This makes the audience of the feel more involved, rather than a comedian just turning up and reciting his act in the time slot and then leaving!

We’re about to launch our own Event Industry talent competition called The Next Big Thing; any tips for aspiring Stand Ups hoping to enter?

I would say – write, write and write! The edit, edit and edit! Then practise, practise and keep practising the material! One bit of advice I was given when I started in stand-up was that 'nothing is ever written, it's re-written and re-written’, they also said ‘be funny’ that helps. Try and talk about things you know about and things that make you laugh; be natural.

And finally, what’s your favourite Funny Song?

It has to be Benny Hills ‘Ernie the Fastest Milkman in the West’ – just because it was the first ever comedy song that I heard and that I can never see a milk float passing by without thinking of Benny Hill.
Patrick will be on tour for the rest of autumn/spring next year, and will be bringing out his first ever stand up DVD on November 28th 2011
Check out Patrick's website for full listings and a link for his new DVD:

You can also follow Patrick on Twitter @PatrickJMonahan

For more information on events and acts that are featuring during comedy month then please check out our website.