Interview: David O'Doherty

Abigail SaltmarshProblem with your bike? Ask comedian David O'Doherty, he's bound to have a few ideas. ABIGAIL SALTMARSH asked him about the freewheeling show he's bringing to Norwich.More about David O'DohertyMore about David O'DohertyAbigail Saltmarsh

Problem with your bike? Ask comedian David O'Doherty, he's bound to have a few ideas. ABIGAIL SALTMARSH asked him about the freewheeling show he's bringing to Norwich.

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David O'Doherty wants to give something back to his audience. It's not enough that people from Norwich will be packing out the Playhouse to see him - no, he feels they deserve something a little more.

'I am at a new stage,' he explained. 'I am trying to give something back to the audience to show that I appreciate the fact they've come to the gig.

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'So when I'm in Norwich I will ask them to tell me about any problems they have been having - and I will try to offer them a diagnosis!'

Bike expert David, who is returning to the city with his new show David O'Doherty: David O'Doh-Party, also plans to try to seduce the whole auditorium. As usual, he will also be bringing out a selection of old pianos and keyboards he has collected over the years.

'I will be playing and serenading them - performing a song in their honour!' he said. 'The show is a constant process in many ways. I'm always writing it as I go along but if there is a theme to this one, it is that people are not as bad as you think they are.

'In Dublin, for example, they have just brought in a free bikes scheme. I hope it happens in Norwich too because it really does work.

'It's one of those schemes where anyone can pick up a bike and ride it for a while. But no-one ever thought it would work in Dublin.

'Everyone had the idea that only in some fictitious European city could a scheme like this ever be successful and that in Dublin they would just be vandalised.

'But so far not one bike in Dublin has been damaged or stolen.'

And he added: 'I think the fact that people are never as bad as you think they are manifests itself in a million different ways.'

As a child, who was born in Dublin, David wanted to be a professional cyclist and then a jazz musician. But a lack of talent in either area saw him take up a job in telemarketing instead.

In 1998, however, he did his first open spot at the now defunct Norseman Comedy Club in Dublin's unfortunate Temple Bar district and the following year travelled to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for the first time, where he won the Channel 4 So You Think You're Funny? competition.

With it came a huge cardboard cheque with �1,500 written on it, which he promptly tried to pay into the bank, making the cashier almost weep with laughter.

In 2000 he performed his first full show The Story of the Boy Who Saved Comedy at the Dublin and Edinburgh Fringes where it received a nomination for Perrier Best Newcomer. From there he went on to tour with the likes of Rich Hall, write more children's books and perform regularly at Edinburgh.

In 2007 he starred in late night TV series The Modest Adventures of David O'Doherty on Irish television and as a part of the series he released a single Orange which reached number 30 in the Irish charts. This was regarded as a failure as the aim had been to get it to 27.

He also starred in A Film With Me In It, which also stars Black Books comedian Dylan Moran, and has just been released in the States.

Last year, as well as touring Australia and New Zealand, and seeing a run of his first play for children I Can't Sleep, he performed his new stand up show Let's Comedy at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal and The Edinburgh Fringe where it won the if.comedy Award for Best Show.

'I really feel my life is 'one never ending tour' now,' he said. 'Don't get me wrong, it's better than working in telemarketing or in a bike shop all the time.

'I often go somewhere to perform and then spend my time on the train afterwards writing my children's books.'

Just before Christmas, David also published 100 Facts About Pandas, with Claudia O'Doherty and Mike Ahern. It was hugely successful, selling out by December 10.

'It was a ridiculous book of facts. The plan now is to do one about sharks. People seem to be obsessed with sharks in much the same way as they are pandas. In fact, he said I would like to take the whole thing further and perhaps make a film of the book,' he said.

'It is nearly possible with technology to do things like putting a panda at a desk in an office to make it look like it is working.'

In the meantime, however, it is time to refresh his knowledge of the workings of a bike and get ready to field questions.

'Yes I am looking forward to returning to Norwich - I always enjoying performing there,' he said. 'And I am ready for people to tell me about their bike problems. There's not much I can offer by way of saying thank you - but I did work in a bike shop so it's the least I can do!'

t David O'Doherty is at Norwich Playhouse on February 5, �12 (�10 cons), 01603 598598,

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