Born in Australia, Damian Clark first came to Ireland in 2002 and from around 2005 has been entertaining audiences up and down the country with his stand-up.
Before touching down in the UK, Damian made Ireland his home and became a regular in RTE’s IFTA Award-winning Republic of Telly, a comedy panelist on TV3’s The Apprentice: You’re Fired plus wrote & co-starred in I Dare Ya! which became the highest rating Irish comedy debut to date.
The first time I saw Damian in Edinburgh, or Damo as he likes to be known, was back in 2014 where he had the audience in the palm of his hands, and after his cult smash show Grand Theft Damo last year, Damo is back with a brand new hurricane hour of stand-up.
Here’s what he had to say about Can’t Slow Down...
What came first? The show or the title?
The title always comes first I think. But then most of the time, apart from last year’s show which was about one thing, every title has been as generic as possible. The main reason is because I didn’t want to give anyone an expectation.
That’s why I won’t call the show something like Jurassic Clark, which I really like, maybe when I’m 80 that’s going to be the title. Grand Theft Damo is the only one that was like that because it was about theft, my other shows have been like Good Damo, G'Damo so the title hasn’t really mattered that much.
I settled on Can’t Slow Down because I just say it once in the show! (Laughs) But the main reason I got it is because it’s the name of a Lionel Richie album, the one which Hello is on. I know the one thing that I will have on stage, is that I’ll be talking fast. I’ll be fitting in as much as I can into an hour. I knew that for a fact - that’s the case every year. SO people will get why I called it Can’t Slow Down because I can’t bloody slow down! (Laughs)
What’s the show all about?
It’s pretty much as much standup as I can get in in an hour. I guess there’s a bit of a theme of drinking, which ends up being the theme of most of my shows because, talk about what you know! Most people when they’re watching stand-up are drinking.
I could talk about sitting for ages, but that’s not as much fun as talking about drinking.
How long has Can’t Slow Down taken to put together?
This one, about twenty minutes of it are from the show I was going to do last year, until the whole getting my phone stolen thing happened. Obviously things have changed since then and I want to talk about other stuff... different parts of drinking! (Laughs)
So it’s been a year, but then some of the show has been two years. Altogether it’s been about two years to get this hour.
How have the previews been going?
Great! The good thing is, and this is the same for other acts, some of it you can do in regular comedy clubs, others you can only really do in previews. Especially last year’s show which was tech heavy.
But with a lot of my show I’ve been doing it in the clubs anyway, even if it isn’t a preview, so I’ve tested it quite a bit. There are some parts which will I’ll only do when it’s a full hour and then you have to figure out the order.
Sometimes even the order can change, depending on how funny the audience find it. If you just switch the order, some things can lose humour, or gain. It’s like a puzzle every year which I like.
Do you like the challenge of coming up with a new show every year?
I love it. That’s the other reason that so much of us do it. It’s the discipline, that we have to write a new hour.
It’s like any market, you grow your pumpkins all year and then you go to the farmers market and go “check out this massive orange bastard”! It’s like a trades fair - look at what I’ve been doing all year! (Laughs)
How do Fringe audiences differ?
They have a bit more patience. They go into a show knowing that they’re going to give that act an hour, or however long the show is. Whereas in a comedy club, most people do twenty minutes but the audience aren’t 100% sure how long you’re going to be on for. So you have to prove yourself as quickly as you can.
Whereas the first hour I did at the Fringe, I was doing that, and you don’t need to. I went out going “like me, like me” but that’s too full on because you’ve got an hour, so enjoy it. That’s the best part. You can really ease into it naturally.
You’ve sold out at the Fringe a few times. That must feel good?
I did free last year, and that was packed every day which was great. The year before I was in the paid Fringe and I got the email to say that I sold 97% of all available tickets for the month. I mean that’s incredible. You just want as many people to see you as possible.
It came down to flyering a lot, people who had been there before the previous years do go back and see acts that they’ve seen before if they enjoyed it, so I think that’s had a rolling effect.
Is that what keeps you coming back?
It’s that, plus it’s the fact that you can not be famous and do an hour in front of people. If you’re not well-known you can’t do that! You can’t rock up to a pub or a comedy club and go “Yep, I’m doing an hour tonight” (Laughs) They’re like no, because no one’s here to see you. They’ve never heard of you before!
Some of the best shows that I’ve seen are from people that I’ve never heard of before. The other thing, on a logistical level, it’s a whole month where you don’t have to travel around and I do love traveling as part of the job, but it means it’s a whole month of no Megabus, no delayed trains - because you’ve spent 58 grand on your accommodation for the month and you can just walk around!
Do you get to see much comedy whilst you’re up there?
It’s always the same. I always say I’m going to see 50 shows and end up maybe seeing about 25 of them. I always see as many as I can, but then I always say yes to a lot of gigs whilst I’m there because I love doing the guest spots. It’s part of promoting the show.
So all the shows on at the same time as you, they’re gone - unless you have nights off. All the ones that are too early in the day, they’re gone - because you’re drunk or asleep. I’ve been quite good at seeing stuff but then there’s always a list of ones I haven’t seen.
A lot of the good shows will keep on going, they’ll go around London, they might tour.
Or you might be able to watch the show back, because you recorded the show last year didn’t you?
Yeah that’s right. I recorded the last show I did in Edinburgh last year and put it online for £3. A few comics do that and I’m hoping that’s where we all go. I mean there’s nothing better than seeing someone live, but just for the people who can’t make it to the Fringe, or want to see the show, it means that hour doesn’t just get flushed down the toilet which is what happens most of the time.
In September when you sit back and think “oh, it’s all over” it’s great to be able to watch shows online that you didn’t’ get to see. So I think more stuff down the line is going to be online as well.
It’s good and bad, as long as people are still going to the live comedy, and they are. Some of the comedy clubs are struggling but the Fringe is still really busy so as long as it doesn’t kill that.
This year I’m going to have my hour from last year done on either USB card or DVDs to give out at the end of the show.
Outside of the Fringe then, what are you up to?
I have recorded another hour, so apart from the one I’m going to do this year, that’s hopefully going to be edited and out by Christmas to download online for maybe a couple of bucks. And then I’ve got a couple of TV ideas in the making, but you never know.
Always working on something, always spinning a few plates!
And finally, how would you sum up the show in just five words?
Drinking. Smoking. Romance. Hangovers. Kebabs. (That’s my setlist for the hour!)