I’d like to thank the Longford Leader for giving me the opportunity to write my own review of my performance in Edinburgh.
Needless to say, anyone who was there to witness that eight minutes will never be able to forget it. The mesmeric, lacerating wit, the shining intelligence, the awesome stage presence...
The gales of laughter that greeted every tossed off witticism, every ironic aside were earth-shattering and those of us in the Gilded Balloon that night may well have had a tilt at blowing the roof off the old venue.
In truth, I wasn’t entirely sure how the gig was going while up there. I knew it was more or less alright. We weren’t in meltdown mode and the crowd (primarily English and Scottish with a smattering of Irish and Antipadeons thrown in) got where I was going and laughed loudly at most punchlines.
There were eight comedians in the heat, including one lad brilliantly named Jamie Carragher. I was up last. When I hopped offstage to a reasonably large cheer, the judges (apparently comprised of a comedian, a journalist, the director of the Gilded Balloon, and two others connected with the festival) ominously skirted off and the compere ad-libbed for about ten minutes. The head judge Karen Koren came back with a piece of paper in hand and the (slightly butch) Scottish female comic read out my name in that Scottish manner (the ‘o’ sound in Conor changes, they pronounce it Cone-er).
‘The winner is Mr Cone-er Neville.’ I sheepishly walked up onstage to recieve the acclamation. My own gang in the audience were easily audible amid the cheers.
As I was the only Irish comic in the heat, among all the Scots, Geordies, Londoners, and that lad from Wigan, I momentarily thought about grabbing the microphone off her and launching into a blast of the Wolfe Tones ‘Come out ye Black and Tans’, or at least the less militant ‘Joxer Goes to Stuttgart’, but wiser counsel prevailed.
After this I was whisked off to be interviewed on the balcony for BBC 2’s ‘The Culture Show.’ Jason Byrne was milling about and is clearly presenting the segment for that show on this year’s ‘So You Think You’re Funny’ competition.
The interviewer asked me did I think this was going to “change my life.”? I muttered something about some people who got this far becoming well-known and successful but how others had not. I wasn’t terribly insightful and can’t guarantee I wont be edited out.
The other comics were generous. The first lad to come up to me was a friend of one of the competing comics who congratulated me (I think ironically) in a Cockney accent for “ruinin’ my mate’s dreams.” Xander Flatt, a Scottish comic who went on second and impressed me I have to say, told me after my first couple of punchlines ‘landed’ they all said “no, he’s won.” Another English comic, who while gracious and insisting he thought I deserved to win, told me, somewhat bombastically, that he “hated Irish comics” on the grounds that all they have to do is start talking in ‘that accent’ and English audiences fall around the place.
I was informed I was the first Irish comedian to reach the final since 2008, (by the comedian in question, Gearoid Farrelly) but it turns out that, though I am the only survivor from this year’s heats in Dublin, one girl has made the final after coming through the London heats. Aisling Bea, who starred in the Savage Eye, is the other Irish comic in this year’s final. Dylan Moran won the competition in 1993, Tommy Tiernan in 1996 and David O’Doherty in 1999.
The final is on this Thursday the 23rd. I’ve been informed by a friend of mine that, in the past decade, losing finalists include Kevin Bridges, Mark Watson, John Bishop, Jack Whitehall, Jarlath Regan and Reginald D Hunter. Whereas, having looked at the list of the past five winners, I have to say we haven’t heard of any of them. He has assured me that I’ll probably prosper so long as I don’t win the thing.