Borderline – Borders, Brexit and banter heading to Huddersfield with comedian Patrick Kielty

Comedian Patrick Kielty has made a start on his brand-new stand-up tour Borderline this month, and will be visiting Huddersfield in June. In his first UK dates since his critically acclaimed 2015 live show ‘Help’, he will play 33 dates across the country, preceded by a tour of Ireland which began in March.

Borderline sees Patrick Kielty return to his satirical roots with a personal take on borders, national identity and the future of the Union in a post-Brexit landscape. As a Northern Ireland native, who grew up close to the Irish border, this new one-man stand-up show delves into his homeland’s recent history to try to make sense of what Brexit’s new borders and political upheaval means for our shared identities.

Patrick Kielty said: “The world’s been turned on its head the past few years and thanks to Brexit, we’re more obsessed with borders and national identity than ever. With Northern Ireland at the centre of it all, it feels like the right time to get back on stage and try to make some sense of where we’re heading.”

Patrick will be performing at the Lawrence Batley Theatre, King Street, on June 16th. You can check out the theatre’s What’s On page and book tickets here.

Find out more in the interview below.

Patrick Kielty

Patrick Kielty is one of the finest stand-ups you are ever likely to see.

That’s not just my opinion. The critics think so too.

The Times describes his act as, “fabulous,” while The Guardian says, “he ripped the place apart,” and The Evening Standard calls him, “a revelation.”

So it is with great delight that we welcome Patrick’s return to the live arena after a gap of seven years. He is back with an enthralling new show, Borderline – and is better than ever.

But why has such a superb comedian been away from stand-up for so long? Chatting in the run-up to his nationwide summer tour, which started at the Glee Club in Nottingham on 11 May, Patrick explains his absence.

“So let’s look at a timeline here,” smiles the comedian, who is married to the TV presenter Cat Deeley. “My last tour was 2015. There was a baby born in 2016. And another baby was born in 2018, which essentially meant that nobody was leaving the house because there were nappies to be changed.

“Now I am at a point where I have got a six-year-old and a four-year-old, and I am sitting there going, ‘hmm, Daddy’s tired. Maybe Daddy needs a little break. So Daddy’s going to go back on the road.’”

Hitting his rhetorical strike now, Patrick continues: “Cat and I joke about it all the time. There is this idea that life on the road is really tough. But after six years of changing nappies, night feeds, and all of that kids’ stuff, I’m going back on the road for a break! I’m sorry, to be honest. But I got back on the road for a lie-in!”

To make matters worse, just as Patrick was about to go on tour, a 100-foot pine tree toppled over in a ferocious storm and smashed into the back of his family house in London.

“Just as the tree fell on the back of the house, I had to leave and do the first gig of the tour in Ireland,” says the comedian, was has also enjoyed a highly successful TV career on shows such as Fame Academy, Patrick Kielty Almost Live, Live from the Apollo, Stand-up for the Week and Love Island.

“Cat said, ‘OK, so you’re just going to talk rubbish on stage, go home to a nice comfortable house in Ireland and make your breakfast at 9 o’clock in the morning instead of 6.30am. And I’m left here with two kids and a tree on the roof of the house!’”

Patrick is a wonderfully engaging character, gifted with a mischievous twinkle that is simply infectious. He is equally brilliant live.

He cannot contain his excitement about getting back on stage. He has already had a taste of the thrill of a live show during the Irish leg of his tour. He has found the experience even more exhilarating than usual because theatres have been closed for so long during the pandemic.

“It’s great to get back in front of a live audience,” enthuses Patrick, who also presented My Dad, the Peace Deal and Me, a deeply moving BBC2 documentary about the Good Friday Agreement and his father’s murder during The Troubles.

“Live performance is something to be celebrated. Walking into venues and talking to lighting guys, front of house people, theatre managers, people who maybe didn’t get furlough and whose lives were basically turned completely upside down – to actually see them working again was fantastic.”

In addition, 51-year-old Patrick has relished returning to the very tangible buzz of a theatre: “Even when you’re in your dressing room, and you hear the music playing in the background, and the murmur of audiences actually coming in and that excitement building – that is amazing. The sense of a community and the interaction with the audience feels even more special this time around.”

The comedian, who hails from County Down in Northern Ireland, also loves the fact that every single live show is unique. “There is a weird thing that you can only get from being on stage in front of a live audience. They are feeding off your performance, and you’re feeding off their energy.
“Whenever they’re excited about something you’re talking about, you get excited too, as you feel, ‘whoa, there’s a moment here’. There is a live energy between a performer and an audience that you just don’t get in any other arena.”

Patrick goes on to pay tribute to the audiences who have gone to a great deal of trouble to see his live shows. “What’s been heart-warming about it is that you realise that anyone who’s coming to see your show – with the cost of living going up, and so many shows to choose from – is making an enormous effort. So I have a huge appreciation for people who are bothering to put their hand in their pocket to come and see me.”

So what can those fans expect from Borderline? It is a characteristic mixture of the very funny, the very thought-provoking and the very poignant. A riveting take on the theme of borders, national identity and the future of the Union in a post-Brexit landscape, the show is also very personal and moving. At certain points, there is unlikely to be a dry eye in the house.

Patrick outlines his thinking. “When I did the last show, my life had changed a lot. For this show, the world has changed a lot. The show’s called Borderline. It’s about identity and how we feel about ourselves and each other. We’ve had Brexit and Trump and all of this turmoil coming from Northern Ireland.

“What was weird was actually getting back out there and talking about stuff in Northern Ireland that maybe you grew up with, but that you never thought a wider audience would actually have any interest in.”

However, “now, as a result of Brexit, we have got the Northern Ireland Protocol and all of these other things. So it’s nice to get up there and try to make sense of what’s going on.”

Borderline also teaches us a strong lesson about the value of talking and listening to each other – something many governments around the world could certainly learn from.
Patrick reflects, “what we’ve done in Northern Ireland may become more important to the rest of the world. Because we’ve come through a heck of a lot, we might actually have a little superpower. We should be more vocal in telling our story in a positive way.
“If you look at the Good Friday Agreement, for the first time we could be British, we could be Irish, we could be neither, we could be both. I mean, we were non-binary before it was even a thing! In the past, sometimes people thought Northern Ireland was a place that was behind the times. But perhaps now we are showing people the way.”

The stand-up tackles some heavyweight subjects in Borderline, but he thinks that comedy is the best medium for making serious points. “I feel that comedy is probably the only way of addressing these subjects. It is very interesting playing with light and shade in the show.

“In the last couple of years, I’ve done a couple of documentaries about Northern Ireland. But there is certain stuff that you can’t say unless you’re on stage. Comedy and satire are a great vehicle for actually pushing the boundaries a little bit and challenging your audience and yourself.”
The comic adds, “A lot of the time if you say something in prose without a context, it doesn’t work. But having a live audience in front of you and building a narrative with them really does. It’s just a unique way of talking to people, and it’s something that I’ve really enjoyed coming back to.”
Finally, what has been the audience reaction so far to Borderline? “It’s a very personal show. What people seem to be saying as they come out of the theatre is, ‘I wasn’t expecting that’. They thought they were coming for something which was going to be political satire, and they find that actually the show is more personal than that.

“The central theme is the idea that we’re all human, and we all have to take care of ourselves and each other. I got a message from someone who came to see the show last night, saying, ‘your performance is a very powerful reckoning with our collective past and moves from great fun to great sadness’.”

I couldn’t have put it better myself.

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