With his stand-up gigs having adapted for TV so well in the likes of 'Comedy Roadshow' and 'Live at the Apollo', Michael McIntyre is bringing his latest special, 'Showman', to Netflix.
McIntyre's career as a comedian has spanned over twenty years now. I ask what his process is for coming up with jokes.
"I jot notes down on my phone now," he explains. "This is basically my new notepad. So, all day I will just jot little notes down and see if they can build or lead to something. Sometimes I confuse shopping lists with comedy, so I'll sit for like half an hour trying to write something about say milk, not realising I just needed to buy milk, and that wasn't a comedy note. I'm writing the joke then I go to get a coffee, realise we've no milk, and that my note about milk was to buy the milk.
"Just looking at my last note [takes out phone], I just put flies hitting yourself all day. I don't know if that will be funny. But it just struck me that, you know, these flies they land on you and you just end up basically hitting yourself all day, like things aren't bad enough. So I'll do that and try it in front of an audience and if they laugh, then I'll do it again, and I just keep building it up or discarding it. And some days I have lots of silly thoughts and other days I have none. But basically I work it with the audience. It's all about if people laugh."
Next we chat about Dublin and Ireland as Michael has performed a number of times here.
"I've always loved gigging in Ireland. And I always come up with new stuff in Dublin because they're very receptive to being in the moment and the reality of Dublin. There's that room there, the O2, or they keep changing the name of it.
It's the 3Arena now, I tell him.
"Yeah because it started off as The Point, and then it was the O2 and then it was the 3. So it's a sort of long fraction, there's the point oh two three. I don't know what it's going to be next time. But it's always fun. They're just wild, but in a good way, audiences in Dublin. Really, really up for it. In fact I did a gig once there and there was someone in the audience who had made a cut-out of my face and had it strapped on. And I remember I took that and put it on my back and put all my clothes the other way around. You just feel confident to do silly things like that there because I think they like things off the cuff.
"I was there in January of this year actually with loads of Irish comics. It was at the 3Arena - Tommy Tiernan was on and Dara [Ó Briain] and Jason Byrne. Lots of mothers, every story was about someone's mother and religion. I love Tommy Tiernan, he just makes me laugh so much."
Chatting about 'Showman' on Netflix, I ask him about a joke in the special on Northern Irish accents. We talk about how infamous impersonating the Irish has become.
"Yeah I have to be honest, for all the positivity I have to say about Ireland, that's where it all falls apart. Whenever I attempt an Irish accent, it really pisses Irish people off. It's like [puts on an Irish accent] 'You wanna be stopping that. It's over.' They don't like that at all and I understand that's come from people doing it badly.
"But the Northern Irish sneezing joke, it is funny, that. That joke actually went through a few different nationalities before I realised that it's funniest to do it in Ireland. It was Northern first, and I shifted it over to Northern Ireland because it got more laughs there. It was the funniest sounding one. And then there's all that stuff with the Titanic.
"But those audiences in Northern Ireland are very different to the Irish. They can be wonderful or horrific. The last two gigs I did there, the Friday was amazing and the Saturday made me want to retire. It can be pretty brutal. Too much drinking I think went on.
"I've had a few weird ones in Belfast. I had a woman who didn't laugh at anything, she just stared at me and I asked 'Are you alright? You're not a fan?' And she said 'No, I'm not a fan at all, I was dragged here by my daughter.' So I thought it would be funny if I got her on stage, so I sat her on the stage and said 'I will make you laugh.' And I just couldn't! She just absolutely hated me and she left the stage. Really, really tough. Maybe not up for the craic, so much. But listen I don't want to disrespect Northern Ireland, I love Northern Ireland!"
I ask Michael how he maintains his upbeat, cheery demeanour, which he's renowned for in his stage persona, even in tough times like these.
"Well it wasn't easy at the beginning. I think we were all a bit freaked out with lockdown and the news conferences and the washing of the hands, and just realising that life had actually become like a disaster movie. It didn't feel funny. To be honest, I've always thought I want to find the funny in everything, and everything is a bit funny and then suddenly it was like, oh God, this isn't funny. This isn't funny at all. And it took a while before comedy started to emerge for me in the situation. I mean now it's still terrible. But now I'm enjoying making it a little bit funny.
"I carry around my thermometer all the time, my gun [shows the thermometer] - I holster it, I just keep putting it up. I went out to dinner the other night and they take your temperature when they go in, otherwise they don't let you in the restaurant. Then they burnt my chicken. And I'm like 'I managed to come here at the correct temperature, the least you can do is shoot your bloody gun at the chicken."
So will he be incorporating jokes about these surreal times into future material?
"Yeah, I think so. I think that's what my role is, just to be a distraction and to be silly and I'm hoping that people can watch this ['Showman'] and just have a laugh and forget about all that. Because comedy reminds you of what's going on in the world because it's coming from a standpoint and an attitude, and I just want to talk about getting in the bath and getting up to pee and my children and my dog and things like that, because they make me laugh. And hopefully it's the right time to have that hour's distraction and then get back to news night."
'Michael McIntyre: Showman' debuts on Netflix on Tuesday, September 15th.