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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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Comedian Patrick Monahan happy to dive in for new Carlisle charity

Fresh from ITV show Splash! stand-up star Patrick Monahan has become a household name.

Patrick Monahan photo
Patrick Monahan

But his busy schedule hasn’t stopped him putting his weight behind Carlisle’s newest cancer charity, of which he is now the official patron.

The comedian, who originates from Teesside, performed a gig for the Odyssey Foundation at the city’s Swallow Hilltop Hotel last month. Having now agreed to become patron of the cancer charity, he will return to the city later in the year and take part in the Cumbrian Run half marathon.

Although he bases himself between his hometown and London, Patrick spends most of his life on the road, touring the UK. His work has brought him to Cumbria on more than one occasion, and he even played a gig for Carlisle’s Labour Parliamentary hopeful Lee Sherriff last year.

It was through Lee, who is now a trustee of the Odyssey Foundation, that he met the charity’s founder Sandra Jones, who has herself battled breast cancer.

The pair hit it off and he has now agreed to take it on as one of his official charities – another being west Cumbrian drug and alcohol charity the Rising Sun Trust.

“I think because it’s for cancer it appealed to me,” he explains. “There isn’t really anyone out there that’s not affected by cancer either directly or indirectly. I wanted to get involved.

“When she asked me to be patron I was a bit worried. I’m not really very skilled in anything but talking! I’m good at turning up on time and talking, but to be honest I can barely switch on a mic. But if I can make people laugh, raise the profile and encourage them to donate then I’ll have helped.”

Patrick admits he is fairly easily persuaded – and Splash! was the perfect example.

The prime time TV show, which reaches its series climax with the final this weekend, sees celebrities try their hand at diving, trained by Olympic medalist and teen heartthrob Tom Daley.

“I look back at that and think it’s pretty mental,” says Patrick. “They just contacted my agent and asked if I’d be up for it. At first I thought why on earth would I do that, I’ve never dived in my life and I’m not really a big fan of heights. Then I thought no, this could be a bit of a laugh.”

Although Patrick was knocked out in the heats, he says it was a brilliant experience and one that has raised his profile nationally. He is now concentrating on his spring tour, which will see him return to Cumbria for a gig in Millom on April 11, and building up to the festival season.

Despite several stints on TV, he still loves grass roots stand-up and says comedy is his dream career.

“I never really knew what I wanted to do. I knew it would have to involve people and talking. I’m the kind of person who constantly needs some kind of interaction. Working on my own in an office would kill me. With stand-up you get paid for making people laugh. I love it,” he says.

“Originally it wasn’t something I ever thought I’d do. Back in the day stand-up was very different. It was all quite old school – men in a bow tie and dinner jacket telling jokes. I’d never even owned a dinner jacket and couldn’t tell jokes in that way. But then you started to see a new type of comedy, a lot more observational. I was about 23/24 when I did my first gig.”

Patrick describes his style of comedy as observational with lots of story-telling and banter. There’s also a lot of hugging. “I’m very interactive with the audience, with a bit of dancing and some hugging thrown in. I’m pretty manic really, a bit bonkers but fun,” he says.

“I like to get to know characters in the audience and make it about them. Afterwards I always try and hang around to chat to people.

His comedy has been inspired by the likes of Richard Pryor, and more recently comedians like Peter Kay, who he credits with helping to bring modern day stand-up into the mainstream.

“Iwant them to go home buzzing, not feeling angry with the world. The whole point of comedy is to laugh,” he says.

After years in the clubs, Patrick’s big break came in 2011 when he won the ITV stand-up comedy contest Show Me the Funny.

Patrick suddenly found himself being offered opportunities he would never have had previously – for example taking part in BBC show Let’s Dance for Sport Relief in 2012.

Most recently came Splash!

He says it was only afterwards that he realised what he had let himself in for. “All the way through I was thinking what the hell am I doing. I decided I would just be the joker. I was actually thinking that on the live show I’d just do a bomb off the one-metre board.But then, after a week or so something just clicked. I looked at all the boards and realised that mostly it’s just about fear. If you can get over that you are laughing,” he says.

Patrick’s confidence grew and two days before the live show, he managed a seven-metre dive. On the advice of his coach he plucked up the courage to attempt the 10-metre board just the once, to make the seven seem easier. But he did so well they persuaded him to do it on the show.

“In the end the judges voted for me but the public didn’t. I always knew that might happen. There are a lot of kids that watch it who wouldn’t really know who I was.

“I remember saying to Dan from TOWIE, you just need to turn up in a pair of Speedos and you are going through. No contest! That’s why I did the 10-metre in the end. I just thought if I’m only going to get one chance at this I may as well just give it a go.”

After spending time with Tom Daley, Patrick has nothing but praise. “He’s like a waxwork model. But a lovely bloke. Very gentle and quite chatty, just like he comes across on TV really, but he trains so hard.

“He did say to me that he still gets scared, a bit nervous, but I think you need that. It’s a bit like stand-up. When I first started I couldn’t eat before a gig, I felt sick. Now I can relax a lot more, but when I walk up there I still get butterflies from the nerves and excitement. You want that.”

Patrick, who now has 12,000 Twitter followers, is looking forward to a busy year. But he says no matter what his schedule throws at him, he will always find time for charity.

“The job we do, stand-up, people say it’s the toughest job in the world. But it’s not really. It’s not like I’m a surgeon. If they get it wrong they could kill someone, if I’m off form the worst that can happen is I get heckled.

“Let’s face it, most comics sit in their pants until about midday and only work for a couple of hours at nights.

“It’s not difficult to give up an hour to do a show for charity. More comics could do that.”

To see Patrick on his Cake Charmer Tour visit www.patrickmonahan.co.uk.

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