Comedian Joe Lycett brings his hit show to Ireland - then heads to the Oscars

Joe Lycett is a brilliant comic, a friend of Oscar nominee Jenny Beaven, a master of puns and – according to one poll – “10th hottest man in the world”. Ahead of two Irish gigs, he talks to Brian Campbell

Joe Lycett plays Dublin on February 25 and Belfast on February 26
Joe Lycett plays Dublin on February 25 and Belfast on February 26

WHEN Joe Lycett enrolled at Manchester University to study drama, a trip to the Oscars would have been the stuff of dreams.

But now the Birmingham native is indeed jetting off to the glitzy Academy Awards ceremony next weekend, even though he’s not been nominated for anything himself.

“My friend Jenny Beaven has been nominated for an Oscar – she was the costume designer on Mad Max - so I’m off to cheer her on,” says the man who chose stand-up over acting and has proven himself to be a brilliantly natural comic.

Jenny Beaven won a Bafta last weekend for costume design (after which she was controversially referred to as looking like `a bag lady’ by awards host Stephen Fry).

“When I’m in London I stay with her; she’s my `other mother’,” says Joe.

Before he flies stateside, however, he plays Dublin and Belfast next Thursday and Friday and I would advise seeing him now before he gets signed up to play much larger rooms than Whelan’s and the Mandela Hall.

“It’s going to be a ridiculous weekend. After Belfast I fly off to go to the Oscars. I’ll be in LA for about 48 hours, then I fly back to do a gig in Norwich. So I go from Belfast to the Oscars to Norwich,” he laughs.

Joe is a fan of putting puns in his show titles, so after touring Some Lycett Hot and If Joe Lycett Then You Should Have Put A Ring On It, his newest offering is That's the Way, A-ha A-ha, Joe Lycett.

“I’ve probably got another 10 years of bad show titles in me. I’m thinking of calling the next one I’m About to Lose Control and I think Joe Lycett. There are endless possibilities.”

Joe had a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe last year and has appeared on TV on the likes of Live at the Apollo (his Apollo routine from 2014 is well worth checking out - see below), Sunday Night at the Palladium and Have I Got News For You.

The clip of the `parking fine’ routine he did on 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown went viral and he says he’ll do a version of it in the current live show.

“I’m just really bad at parking and the only way I can deal with it is to write a stand-up routine about it; otherwise I’d just go livid on my own.”

So what else will he be talking about in the live show?

“This show is sort of a love letter to my hometown of Birmingham and the mad people that live there. And there’s a bit about a stag do that I went on,” he says. “It’s just a lot of silliness and stuff about my letters to people; lots of daft stuff, basically.”

Lycett launched a jokey campaign to get himself on a high spot in gay lifestyle magazine Attitude’s Hot 100 last year and he ended up at number 10, in the company of names including Tom Daley, David Beckham and Zac Efron.

“I do mention that in the show briefly, because I don’t want people to not know that I’m the 10th hottest man in the world; it would be a shame for them to leave not knowing that," he laughs.

“This year it could be funny if I used my influence to get somebody else to number one, someone like Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin. I’m happy with 10th.”

Speaking of another vote, Joe says he was apparently funnier in his schooldays than he thought.

“I don’t remember being that funny in school and then I found a yearbook and I was voted the funniest student. So obviously I was funnier than I thought I was; I’m hoping that’s the case now as well.”

With his routines he does seem to be effortlessly hilarious in everything he says, but he says this takes work.

“I’ve always wanted to make my stand-up feel like it’s just a conversation and that’s how I try to write stuff. I put a lot of work into making it feel as effortless as I hope it does come across.”

In terms of why he chose to pursue comedy over acting, he says, “stand-up was more appealing than having other people telling me what to do”.

After doing his first stand-up gig in Manchester after having a few drinks too many, he says, “I had such a bad gig and kind of humiliated myself that it spurred me on to prove people wrong”.

He is a fan of Irish comics Tommy Tiernan, Dara Ó Briain and Andrew Ryan and says going to a Tom Stade gig in Birmingham was pivotal in pushing him to do comedy.

“I just thought, `This is amazing’ and that sowed the seed of me wanting to give stand-up a go. And here we are.”

Joe Lycett plays Whelan’s in Dublin on Thursday February 25 (tickets €15) and the Mandela Hall in Belfast on Friday February 26 (tickets £12/£14). See joelycett.com