Comedian Paul McDaniel, a native of Fermanagh, is part of a pioneering team bringing the first dementia-friendly comedy show to Glasgow.

Organised by Lynsey Neilson, Dementia Development Manager for Glasgow’s Golden Generation, the already sold-out show will be compered by Paul and will take place during Glasgow Comedy Festival on March 18.

“Lynsey actually does stand-up as well so that’s why she contacted me, so I’m going to be hosting it,” explained Paul about his involvement. “The feedback that the organisation got from families and the older people that receive their services was that they hadn’t really seen any live comedy because comedy doesn’t really cater to people with dementia because most live comedy is at night and it’s in a pub or dark club,” he added.

Noting how the dementia-friendly show will differ from one of his regular comedy gigs, Paul said: “It’s going to be on at 2pm, we’re going to keep the sets quite short, no more than seven minutes per act and there’s going to be no audience participation so I’m not going to make fun of any audience members and things like that. Also there’s not going to be any swearing because it’s going to be on during the daytime for a family audience.”

Sharing why hosting this dementia-friendly show is so important to him, Paul commented: “My grandmother had dementia so doing this gig is something that’s close to my heart.”

Originally from Enniskillen, Paul moved to Glasgow 13 years ago for his work and it was whilst living in the city that he decided to try his hand at comedy.

“I used to be into music, I was in a few bands in Enniskillen and then in Glasgow. I was a guitarist and then I went solo when I was in Glasgow. I used to sing and write songs but I just wasn’t getting anywhere with it and I needed a new outlet so in 2011 I did a comedy course,” said Paul, who explained that the course was through Strathclyde University and organised by the comedian Viv Gee: “She does an eight week comedy course and at the end of it, you do a gig, like a five minute spot at a gig venue in Glasgow. So I did quite well at the gig so I decided to continue with it and it was getting good feedback so I just decided to keep going.”

Since then, Paul’s comedy career has continued to gain traction. He came second in the Scottish Comedian of the Year 2019 and has been able to move to part-time hours in his job working for the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.

But a career in comedy doesn’t come without its challenges, which Paul realised during his first experience of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

“It’s hard to keep going if you have bad gigs, if no-one laughs, it can be quite emotionally devastating going on stage to silence and have people stare at you. When I did the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, the first time I did it, that was a real eye opener and I was there for a month just doing a show everyday so that was a real challenge. When I got my first review when I did that, the reviewer hated my stand-up so when I read that, that was just a real blow to me so I sort of thought, ‘I can’t do this’. But I think you just continue and you get used to it and there are people that don’t like it but you just have to keep going and focus on the people that do like it,” shared Paul.

However, Paul has used his “lack of success” at the Fringe Festival as content for his comedy act, which takes the form of a character, an alter-ego of himself.

“I talk about the fact I don’t really know much about football and stuff like that, but I act as if I’m a bit of a dude, a bit cool, but I’m really not. It’s just based on stuff that’s happened to me but I change it a wee bit. I talk about other gigs I have done, I’ve talked about my lack of success at the Fringe Festival and how the first day of my show I just did the show to no-one just to test the mics,” Paul told this newspaper.