Q&A: Comedian Ciarán Bartlett talks Northern Ireland humour and handling hecklers
Comedian Ciarán Bartlett is performing at the Accidental Theatre in Belfast next week.
The Belfast funnyman will take to the stage on Wednesday, June 27.
Ahead of the gig, he spoke to the Belfast Telegraph about what makes NI humour so unique and the funny people in his life.
1. Audiences are warned to bring a thick skin to your show - should they be worried?
Yes, yes they should! I'm only joking! I love to give my audience members a bit of stick, usually about their clothes or their general vibe. #
I don't think it's funny to call a fat person fat or a tall person tall, but if you can rip into a pair of really rare shoes, then why the hell not? That's a very Belfast type of comedy to me.
Believe me though, no one takes more of my wrath than me, a lot of this show is explaining my weirdness to people. I also issue that warning because since I started comedy, things have changed a bit and people seem to be a little more easily offended. I got into comedy to make people laugh, so the last thing I want is for people to be annoyed at my jokes.
Having said that, I can only do the jokes that I think are funny, and a lot of the time that means looking at controversial topics and saying what I think is funny about them, or offering my own mouthy take on something banal. But I like 'bad yarns' and I swear a lot, in real life, not just on stage, so I just want people to be aware that I might not be their cup of tea, but I'm not going to change who I am so I can do a gig in someone's safe space!
2. What subjects will you be poking fun at during your new show?
I'll be doing some brand new musical jokes, which is a sort of mainstay of my set.
I'll be looking at relationships, getting married, what I call the plight of the fat man, and I'll maybe have a jab or two at celebs ranging from Kim Kardashian to Michaela McCollum!
3. What has been your career highlight so far?
Tough one, this. I'd say the day they gave me my staff discount card in Tesco. I could get ten percent off anything over one pound.
Only sleggin, I think selling out the Ulster Hall with the boys from the Comedy Squad in 2016 was a big highlight.
I've also loved our Christmas shows at Lavery's. Having said that, I did a gig on a bus in 2010 that was so bad, so utterly terrible that it has to be a highlight as well.
4. What the worst heckle you've ever had and did you make them cry after?
I love hecklers. I love people that are so brazen (and drunk) that they think they are part of the show. The only I love more than a heckler, is stamping them into the ground with a withering putdown.
One of my all-time faves was in Lavery's at a very busy gig. There was a group of about six lads and one lady sitting off stage to my right and I wanted to get some banter going with the boys because they were a bit loud and that, but a perfectly nice bunch of people. So I told one of the guys that he looked the sort to have a topless Tinder profile photo of himself, like a real poser. He laughed, his mates laughed, and I asked him if he did and his mates were nodding.
However, the lady with them, was not amused. Turned out that was her boyfriend. And she shouted 'No he doesn't, he's not even on Tinder, you mess.' An acceptable heckle. I pulled out a Samurai sword, I said 'That's cool the way you let her speak for you, mate.' The place went into an uproar. I then said, 'Good luck getting your manhood back out of that little flytrap'. Everyone applauded. She was appalled. Insult to injury, all of those guys, including her boyfriend came over to get photos with me after the show while she held their coats. As we say in west Belfast, RUINED.
5. Within the Northern Ireland comedy scene - who are you most excited about at the minute?
There are so many opportunities for writing comedy for TV and digital outputs, and that's what I've been doing for my main job for a couple of years now.
We get to work with loads of really funny, talented people and it's just great when going to work is making a video about whether or not Bunter Castles can hit a penalty!
6. Who are your comedy heroes?
Ronnie Barker, Billy Connolly, Bill Burr and Frankie Boyle. Ronnie Barker is probably the best comedy writer of all time, an absolute genius.
Billy Connolly's insane rambling storytelling technique is amazing. Bill Burr just says what everyone is thinking and I think Frankie Boyle is one of the smartest comedians I've ever seen.
7. Do you think Northern Ireland has its own special brand of humour?
Absolutely. We share a very dark sense of humour with each other. It's not like the crowds in Dublin or even in England or Scotland. There's definitely a really dark heart here to what people will laugh at.
I think it's about making sure everyone knows you're joking here, once they know that you don't take yourself too seriously, they will go with you to some weird and wonderful places.
8. Who is the funniest person you know?
I'll get in troubler one way or another here. The people that make me laugh the hardest the most often would be my partner, Chloe, my brothers Declan and Kevin and my mum. She is absolutely buck-mad. A few moths ago she tried to rewind real life using the Sky TV remote.
9. What would you like to be doing five years from now?
Still writing comedy, maybe for a series on TV. I'd still like to be gigging. I'd like to be watching Man United in the Champions League Final, and I still eagerly await the day that time travel becomes a reality.
10. Who would you love to be stuck in a lift with for 24 hours?
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