Peter Dixon

10 minutes with…Pat Cahill

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Pat Cahill didn’t know what stand-up comedy was until he got drunk with his brother Fred one night and stumbled upon a Lee Evans box set. Turning away from his degree in Theatre Design (who can blame him?), Cahill’s not looked back since, winning awards left, right and centre in the past few years and even getting himself on Dave’s One Night Stand. Keen to hear more from one of comedy’s hottest prospects, Radio Teesdale’s Peter Dixon sits down for a quick chat with Pat about his comedy, working with the BBC and his debut Edinburgh show, Start.

PD: Hi Pat. First thing’s first, how did you get into comedy?

PC: Well, I was always a bit of an idiot in school, but I suppose the crux of it was when my brother Fred sat me down in his flat and showed me my first stand-up DVD, which was The Best of Lee Evans. I’d never really seen stand-up before and just cried laughing at him. I thought, “Yep, that’s it.” It was also the same night my brother gave me my first beer so I don’t know if there’s any correlation there.

After that I did a bit at university – we had a night there – and , er, I went away to do Theatre Design for a while and I came back to stand-up when I realised it was the only thing that was floating my boat. That was three and a half, four years ago. It’s been great. Crazy things have happened and I’ve been all over the place; I’ve not looked back at all.

PD: It’s a bit of a tricky question, but how would you describe your act?

PC: I dunno, I struggle myself. I suppose it’s absurdist things, but on the basis that I don’t sit there and try to write weird stuff, more along the lines of that I look at life and think it’s ridiculous. It’s as ridiculous as it gets, so you might as well just try and go with it. I suppose…rational surrealism. Oh God, that sounds awful, doesn’t it?

I suppose it’s just word play, silly jokes, extending ideas until their illogical and daft, a couple of songs, all done with an idea that the world is ridiculous.

It’s funny, I don’t watch myself back very often but when I do I sometimes see myself smiling and I don’t remember doing it. I don’t consciously smile on stage because when you’re up there you’re just trying to get through it and do your best. Maybe it’s just because I’m doing a song about a dog that’s just been put down or something – and getting away with it somehow.

PD: Yes, you’ve done quite a few of those songs for the BBC, haven’t you? Doggy Dilemma, Chick and Mix… They’re rap songs really, aren’t they?

PC: Yeah, I’ve become an involuntary rapper. I never set out to do rap; I’m not particularly a fan of it, but I just had some songs on my iPod that I liked and I got a friend of mine to re-do them – while I rapped along. I was trying to write a joke at the time and for some reason it seemed to go better with this music backing so I just pushed it and pushed it and eventually the BBC said, “Do you want to make a little one-off video of ‘em?”

The BBC can put them on wherever they like, really, but they’re originally done for online consumption. It was great to get them to do it with me because I’d have never been able to do it as well.  They’re basically just music videos. The director drew these amazing story boards and beautiful little cartoons – real attention to detail. He’d even draw stuff that wasn’t on the shot; little details. It was amazing. So when we went to do it we knew exactly what was going on. It was very impressive and a lot of fun.

There’s various models and friends in the video too, and my body double was Adam Larter, who’s another stand-up comedian. When I was dancing out front he was playing the guy in the chicken shop behind me.

PD: Ace. I watched you on Dave’s One Night Stand as well not long back; you seem to be getting quite a bit of air time as of late…

PC: One Night Stand was fantastic, yeah. It was a wonderful bunch of people to do it with; Chris [Ramsey] was lovely, Andrew [Maxwell] was fantastic and Benny Boot was great as well. It was at the Hackney Empire, which I’d been to a few times before but I’d only gigged there once before the show.

I couldn’t really treat it as a normal gig; I was terrified for starters! I think I did about 20 minutes and it was edited down to seven minutes. They chop out what they like, really. I mean, they do ask you what bits you think should go in and what bits should go – it’s not brutal or anything.

It was good just to do an extended set in front of that many people because you don’t get to do that very often.

PD: Are you doing an Edinburgh show this summer then?

PC: I am, yeah! I’m doing my first hour – a show called Start. It’s going to be some of the stuff I’ve been working on over the years and a few new bits to make it into a proper show. It’s exciting. The title has no relevance; it just means that I can do anything I want with it. If I called it Pat Cahill’s Exploration of Modern Science it’d be quite limiting.

PD: You’re coming to the North East in March; have you been to the region before?

PC: The furthest north I’ve been for a gig – apart from Edinburgh – is Harrogate! I’m not that familiar with the North East to be honest, but I’m doing the gig with Daniel Simonsen and Alfie Brown who I know very well. We’re doing a few work-in-progress nights together in London at the moment actually. I’ve known Daniel for a couple of years now and he’s just getting better and better. Lovely chap too. I was sharing a flat with Daniel when he won the Best Newcomer at Edinburgh [in 2012] and it was just great news because it was a cracking show.

PD: Good stuff. Finally then, what’s happening after Edinburgh? Do you have any plans?

PC: Edinburgh’s the main goal but after that, no…I just check the diary and scream at how much it’s going to cost me on the train. I don’t really plan that much; I try not to get too distracted by the ambition. I just want to get on with my comedy and maybe a career will come together at some point.

Pat Cahill is at the Parish Hall, Barnard Castle, on Saturday 16 March, alongside Alfie Brown, Iain Stirling and Daniel Simonsen. For tickets, see: