Making a stand
Stand Up For The Week is on Channel 4, at 11pm, on Fridays
Comedian Patrick Kielty is no stranger to controversy. Razor sharp and quickwitted, he’s been hailed as a genius but his risqué ribbing hasn’t been without repercussions.
He’s received death threats and in 2007 was forced to issue a public apology for remarks he made about the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. But the 39 yearold says he doesn’t court controversy.
“One of the things which appears to be in vogue right now is to quote comedian’s lines, which are said in context with a certain amount of delivery and irony in a live room, and just dictate it onto the page and write that up as controversial or shocking,” says Patrick.
“I think the easiest thing, or may be even the laziest thing in the world is to get a controversial headline just by purely quoting what people on stage say rather than how they say it or what wry look there may nave been when they were saying it.”
This month Patrick is hosting a new show called Stand Up For The Week, which he describes as “a topical, satire stand-up show.” Each week he will be joined by a regular team of stand-up comedians including Rich Hall, Jack Whitehall, Andi Osho and Scot Kevin Bridges, “who’s going to be looking at England’s world cup campaign”, says Patrick.
“It’s quite a simple idea but what’s interesting about it is that’s it’s not really been done before,” he says.
“Most stand-up shows you see on television are recorded a few months in advance, which means the material’s pretty much rehearsed within an inch of its life and by the time it goes out it can’t really react to very recent events. Then there’s the comedic panel show where a bunch of comedians come on and they discuss the news and it’s more a case of who’s quick enough to get their line in first.”
Going out at 11pm on a Friday night, it’s the perfect post-pub fare and the comedians can afford to be on the edgy side. One of Patrick’s favourite segments will see a celebrity guest invited to endure ‘The Chair’.
“We’ve got to the stage now where you can’t get anyone to appear on a show unless you plug what they’re doing, so we’ve decided to do that in reverse,” says Patrick.
“We say, if you want to actually come on and plug what you’re doing, then you have to endure a little tribute or ‘roast’. If the person can sit in the chair and keep their mouth shut while I say hopefully what most people think about them, then at the end they get ‘the right to reply’.”
Brought up in County Down, Patrick and his two brothers enjoyed a tranquil up-bringing, until tragedy struck in 1988.
When Patrick was 16, his father Jack, the boss of a successful building firm and the chairman of the Gaelic Athletic Association was shot six times by the Ulster Freedom Fighters. Some have suggested this experience laid the foundations for his future career, as Patrick’s often used The Troubles in his stand-up shows but Patrick disagrees.
“A lot of articles go for the easy thing [that] because my dad was murdered when I was 16, the political thing came in after that,” he once said. “It was almost as if I’d decided to turn myself into some sort of comedy Batman because something terrible had happened in my past, I had to put on the political comedy cape and take on these issues.”
What Patrick doesn’t enjoy is the preparation for a show. “You talk to most comedians, [and you’ll discover] they are probably the most professional of procrastinators you’re ever going to find. We’ll do anything apart from write. I’ll organise my knicker draw, I’ll arrange my socks in colour order.”
It’s why he appreciates having a weekly deadline for Stand Up For The Week. “You know you’re out there every Friday night and you know it’s a topical show, so you’re just constantly trawling the papers and watching the news keeping an eye out for stuff.”