New London comics
'And for my finale - the Human Lightning rod!'
Sell your act in a line...'Andrew O'Neill is so funny you may die'
Manor Manor House, right next to Finsbury Park.
Who is he? What makes this self-confessed anarchist, vegan, transvestite, misanthropic psychogeographer, metalhead and musician want to get up in public and get laughs? Perhaps it goes back to the time when a nine-year-old O’Neill began taping and learning ‘Blackadder’. Or those junior school assemblies when Andrew and his friend Tom performed comic sketches. ‘Connecting with people,’ he suggests. ‘Knowing my perverted ideas are lurking in thousands of brains across the country, just waiting for my signal.’
He studied film at the University of North London. He’s worked in various shops including Selfridges, ‘demonstrating inflatable goo’. He did street-based charity fundraising. ‘That experience led me to hate charities and to form Hinder the Aged to fuck them up.’
He describes stand-up as ‘a stupidly pleasant existence. I can’t believe they pay us, to be honest. We’re basically just showing off.’ He likes surrealism, non-sequiturs and making people laugh ‘with things they can’t explain’. When he started out, back in 2002, he coined the term ‘comedygrind’ to describe the speed and intensity of his delivery. ‘It comes from grindcore – a hybrid of metal and punk. It doesn’t apply any longer. Now that I’ve learned pacing.’ He says he’s a lot like death-metal band Carcass in that respect.
O’Neill went to Edinburgh with his splendidly deadpan, diligently researched show ‘Winston Churchill Was Jack the Ripper’ (the clue is in the title). He also runs the Troy Club, a comedy night for inventive performers like himself. ‘It’s a reaction to the profit-motivated, corporate side of the business. Most promoters seem to care more about their bar takings than the quality of the comedy they put on.’
Worst gig The time, about a year in, when he realised the stand-up circuit wasn’t alternative any more.
Favourite comedians Isy Suttie, Sarah Kendall, Stephen Carlin, Tony Law, Andy Zaltzman, Simon Munnery, Paul Foot.
Favourite London clubs Downstairs at the King’s Head – ‘a perfect club in every way. They play jazz before the show starts. There’s a low ceiling. It’s intimate, friendly, and they nurture talent.’ ED Comedy Club – ‘it’s run by people who have a love for it.’
Look out for Andrew’s appearance at the rock and comedy night Speakeazy with the Orator in Camden (Sept 27), his Troy Club show (Oct 4), gigs at Hampstead Comedy Club, Upstairs at the Queen’s Head and the Comedy Store (all on Oct 7) and the NO2ID (anti-identity cards) show he’s organised at the Hackney Empire (Oct 1).
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