Frank Carson’s dead, Paddy Kielty’s got bigger fish to fry and Colin Murphy’s getting on in years, so it’s up to Micky Bartlett and his motley crew of comedic upstarts to make Belfast laugh week in, week out.
Micky, who’s been a fixture on the Belfast scene for the past 7 years, is part of NI’s comedy brat pack along with the likes of Colin Geddis, Shane Todd, Terry McHugh, Alan Irwin, Rory Woods and Sean Hegarty.
“There’s plenty of funny people out there but most of them are too smart to put themselves through the nightmare of getting up on stage and trying to make people laugh,” said Micky. “Comedians are the idiots who keep coming back for more. Even if it’s clearly not working. I’ve seen a lot of really bad comedians who are gluttons for punishment. Most of them are English come to think of it.”
He continued: “Being a comedian is an addiction. It’s a narcissistic thing. They walk into a room and say, “Right everybody, stop enjoying yourself and listen to me.”
The new show that Micky’s working on deals with this subject – it’s called Narcissilly.
Micky’s first taste of showbiz came at a school formal when he was asked to present some tongue in cheek awards. He said: “I got a few laughs and that got me thinking about making a living out of making people laugh. It’s the best job in the world.”
Here’s a clip of Micky in action at the Odyssey Arena, but be warned, it contains a fair bit of swearing…
Talking about venues and groups that are supporting comedians in Belfast, Micky listed The Pavilion, Laverys, The Empire, Queen’s Radio, Voicebox Comedy, McHughs and The Black Box.
“My parents aren’t comfortable with me doing comedy,” he said. “My dad reaches for his inhaler at the mention of me on stage and mum would rather I’d stuck to the civil service.
“The 1st time I was ever in the Empire for a comedy night was the week before I was due to perform there for the 1st time. I went just to scare myself. The biggest gig I’ve ever done was supporting Paddy Kielty in the Odyssey. I was performing in front of over 5000 people. It was the most nerve-wracking thing I’ve ever done in my life. I remember none of it.
“The best gig was supporting Tommy Tiernan. I’ve always admired Tommy so it was nice that the 1st time I met him I was coming off stage, opening the green room door and saying, ‘Hi Tommy, I’m Micky’, with the crowd giving me the biggest applause I’ve ever had.”
But it isn’t all about the applause. Micky recalled: “I was supporting Sean Hegarty in this bar in Lurgan. They had the football on in the front bar and in the back bar the WAGs were doing karaoke. No one wanted us there. When I started my set they didn’t know the karaoke had finished. It didn’t help that the guy with the mic didn’t know who I was and announced me as Ricky Martin.
“I kept hearing this whoosh when I was up on stage, before I realised it was coins going past my head.”