An evening with comedy’s Mr. Nice

By Corey Drewry

Patrick Monahan is often asked a question along the lines of “how did you get into comedy?” And he will often reply that he needed a job that allowed him to talk to people, and as supermarkets were closed at night, the decision was almost made for him.

An infectious personality that bursts with energy, and the pleasure he gets in talking to a crowd and being social shines through in his performances, which are as inclusive as you’re likely to come across, without being wet and drippy. Though his is open to all-comers, Monahan is keen to talk up the variation present in today’s comedy, that events like the Leicester Comedy Festival aim to broadcast to the wider public, sections of which may still be finding out what tickles their fancy.

“There’s a comic for everybody, if you want gluten-free, you can get it,” he quips.

With that in mind, the comic’s broad appeal can also be traced to his background. His Irish father and his Iranian mother relocated to the North East when he was three; a rare collision of cultures that has clearly helped shape his personality and sense of humour.

patrick monahan_0239_photo by steve ullathorne

 Tickets for Monahan’s show, Rewind Selector 90s, are available from ticketsource.co.uk, for between £10-£12.

He says that diversity “is great for stand up”, but “is not much of a deal breaker” in the UK, in comparison to the US, a place at the forefront of comedy, both in terms of the performers, and the material they have to work with.

It may seem now that there is a saturation of circumstances to poke fun at with the current President, but Monahan remembers a time when there was just as much low-hanging fruit, if not more.

“In the old days with Bush, you didn’t necessarily have to make a joke, you could just mention him and get a reaction.”

Perhaps because with Trump the novelty has worn off. Also, with the advent of technology, there is the acknowledgement of the ever-present funny people of the internet. The new-blood having forced traditionalists to adapt and “sharpen up”.

“You’ve got to up your game!… you’re not just competing with your peers and other comics; you’re competing with everyone.” Something that he believes bodes well for the quality of material out there, and also for the prospects of up-and-comers.

“You see it when there’s something topical, you get text a joke, a meme, or a video. When you do something funny, it can get out.” For Monahan, this reality takes the form of gentle trolling of his girlfriend, Lily Lovett shared on his Instagram account (see the Christmas present wrapping special). The playful efforts to drive the former Inbetweener cast member away have seemingly backfired, as the two now work on a fledgling dating show together.

Monahan is not content to be Middlesbrough’s answer to the late Cilla Black and is fresh from a stint playing the ‘baddie’ in the panto, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. A role that took some persuading to agree to. It was initially pitched to him that it could be one of the talents in his triple-threat, which fell on deaf ears. “My triple threat is: I make cake, eat cake, and watch Netflx.” Hobbies that he is especially good at with the amount of time spent in hotel rooms.

Despite the reluctance, he’s glad he tried his hand at something new. It turned out to be quite the departure from some of his more raucous corporate gigs, where “three people are faced the right way and the other 300 are hammered, throwing potatoes at each other”

Additionally, as one of comedy’s perennial good guys, there was the unusual experience of being disliked on stage. “I’d never dream of doing anything serious on stage, with this I could.”

Self-deprecating, warm, and funny, Patrick Monahan will be at this year’s Leicester Comedy Festival, and he wants to talk to you.

The Irish-Iranian funny man from Middlesborough will descend on Leicester’s Sue Townsend Theatre, on February 10.

Council urges youngsters to join important committee

By Olivia Mumby

Leicester City Council (LCC) is calling for more young people to stand for its Young People’s Council (YPC).

28067852142_0e8ff8b041_o

In a statement issued via Twitter, the council said: “We want young people aged 11-19 to stand for our Young People’s Council and have their say on local issues in Leicester.”

Members of the YPC are representatives of the community, working with council members on issues regarding young people’s services in the city.

It is their job to make their communities’ voices heard, so they meet with locals to discuss needs and issues.

City-wide elections will start on Monday, 26 February, and will last for a week, with voting being held in schools, colleges and youth centres.

A special event will then be held at Leicester’s City Hall, where the successful candidate will be sworn in.

They will then have a seat alongside members of the council on the children’s scrutiny committee to monitor council decisions on issues affecting the city’s young population.

LCC continued: “Make sure you apply before registration closes on the 16th February.”

Anyone who wishes to become a candidate should email Bernadette.killeen@leicester.gov.uk or call 07710 148497.

More information can be found on the council’s website at https://t.co/WAFyZAyLSC

DMU Student scoops top journalism award

By Luke Smith

chandler nctj.jpg

Matthew (centre) receiving his award from BBC Presenter Nick Owen (left) and NCTJ Chief Executive Joanne Butcher (right)

A De Montfort University journalism student has collected a top national shorthand award at the BBC Academy in Birmingham.

Matthew Chandler, a second-year student, was presented the award at the National Council for the Training for Journalists (NCTJ) Student Council day on Friday (Feb 2).

The award was presented to Matthew by Nick Owen, host of BBC Midlands Today.

Matthew said: “I won the Society of Editors shorthand award for 100 words per minute, which I passed last March with 100 per cent. I have also passed 120 wpm.

“Shorthand has always come naturally to me, but I was very pleased to win this award and the £250 wasn’t half bad either.

“I found the anecdotes from Nick Owen very interesting to listen to, he was a good choice of speaker and presenter. I really enjoyed listening to him and meeting him.”

Matthew was chosen for this award from hundreds of students who currently study on the NCTJ programmes across the country.

The event was presented as part of the NCTJ’s Annual Student Council event, which members of the Student Council attended to represent their respective NCTJ-accredited media centres and offer their advice as to how the courses could be improved.

Presenter, Nick Owen, has previously presented ‘Good Morning with Anne and Nick,’ the 1988 Olympic Games, European Championships 1988, and the 1990 FIFA World Cup. He is also a former chairman of Luton Town Football Club.

Million pound plans for derelict land opposite Highcross Leicester well under way

By Jake Olner

Building is well under way on the new £50 million project that aims to re-develop an unused plot of land in Leicester’s Vaughan Way by linking the City to the Waterside.

The project will see the construction of a 150 room Novotel hotel and a 100 room ‘aparthold’ for Adagio as well as a crossing over the ring road for pedestrians.

Leicester developer Charles Street Buildings has already begun construction on the derelict land on Vaughan Way, opposite Highcross shopping centre.

IMG_2731

The new hotel complex towers over John Lewis shopping centre

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “Charles Street Buildings have put forward a very exciting proposal for this long-disused plot of land.

“The planned hotel complex will help transform this rather grotty area and help create a really attractive gateway into the Waterside area.”

As part of the £50 million project, a new ‘super crossing’ will be created on Vaughan Way to help pedestrians crossing over the busy ring road and improve the link from the city to the Waterside.

Mayor Soulsby added: “As is stands, getting across the ring road is a major barrier for pedestrians and motorists.

“The proposed scheme presents an opportunity to address that and, at the same time, improve the route out from the city centre in the Waterside area with more attractive footways and a safe crossing for pedestrians and cyclists.”

Joseph Murphy, Charles Street Buildings’ director, said: “We are now looking forward to progressing our ambitious development plans for this important site.”

DMU student nominated for Interrail travel love prize

By Ross Barnett

A De Montfort University student has been shortlisted for an award and is in with a chance of winning two European train tickets.

ross and abbie story

Ross Dowd, a second-year Psychology student, submitted his story to Interrail along with his girlfriend, Abbie Lawson, and received confirmation that he had made the shortlist yesterday (Tuesday Feb 6) afternoon.

Ross said: “I’m delighted. We received this email as part of Interrail’s Valentine’s Day promotion. We sat in 96 degrees café in Leicester and talked it through before deciding to write it.”

Interrail.co.uk sells train passes that are valid for most train services in 30 European countries and are available to everyone while also offering discounts for students.

First place in the competition wins two one-month continuous passes with first-class Eurostar tickets included allowing the winner unlimited travel over the month while second and third will receive two ten-day travel passes per winner.

“The first time I went we had a 21-day continuous pass and we saw 14 countries,” said Ross.

“My favourite was Lake Bled because it was so spontaneous. We had never heard of it before and someone said on the train about it and it was only a three hour bus route from Ljubljana.

“Bern in Switzerland was memorable because it was unlike any capital city in Europe as it was like a little town.

“Interrail is a great opportunity to see loads of countries and it gave us the opportunity to explore places that I had never heard of. It’s also great for travelling around each country.”

The shortlist will be narrowed down to three, before a winner will be selected on 14 February.

You can read Ross and Abbie’s story and vote at interrail.love by submitting your email address and in turn you will be in with a chance of winning an Interrail train pass of your own.