Heard the one about the guy who killed someone in self-defence and ended up in prison?
No? Want to hear a joke about it? You will once you know that it’s hilarious, cheeky chappy comic Larry Dean who’s telling it.
Before you’re up in arms about how killing someone isn’t a laugh-a-minute, be calm in the knowledge the joke’s about Larry’s best mate. Phew! But more of that later.
The award-winning (a Moose award is still an award! – see below) Glaswegian comic attended exclusive Belmont Academy High School in a posh suburb on the south-side of Glasgow – the same school attended by the Biffy Clyro boys – but clearly isn’t your typical private schoolie. First off, his dad’s family are fae the East End and Larry’s idea of looking good in his teens at the weekends was to don a ‘classy’ silver Sellic (Celtic) ring and snazzy silver watch.
Larry explains: “My family on my dad’s side are from the East End of Glasgow but I grew up near Shawlands.
“A mate of mine owned Bairds Bar near the Barras. So how did I end up in a private school? I moved around a lot when I was younger.
“My mum was a teacher and around twenty years ago when property prices were doing well she realised if she did a house up and painted it she could make a lot of money. It was a good way of looking after three kids. So she sent me to Belmont.
“The main reason I went to Belmont was basically I was thick as f**k! I still left there with only a B in Art and a C in Music so it’s either draw a picture or play the guitar for the rest of my life! My brother and sister sound proper south-side though I don’t.
“When I’m doing stand-up, Scottish audiences don’t mind a posh accent but I find myself, when I’m overseas, changing my accent. I’ve subconsciously learned to tone down my voice.”
His voice may be toned down but not the 28-year-old’s sense of shock value. Hence the name of his comedy tour is ‘Fandan’.
If you’re Glaswegian you’ll be sniggering right now and if not why don’t you go, preferably loudly, into a crowded shop in the middle of Glasgow or Edinburgh, and enquire what Fandan means.
Larry laughs: “Fandan means someone who’s a bit of a f***y or ladies part to be nicer.
“It’s a Glaswegian term so tends to be only us who know what it means. I may have gone to Belmont School but my dad would take me on trips to Celtic Park and it was much more of an eclectic trip. You know, a lot of swear words and other things being shouted out.
“I thought it would be really funny when I was interviewed by posh English people on the radio or TV and they would say ‘tell me about Fandan…’ (laughs)
“The show’s about my mate Zane (not his real name) who went to jail for killing someone in self-defence.
“I met up for a cup of tea with him and his mate who he met in jail. Fandan’s about that conversation and about acceptance.
“There’s also a sub-plot about Brexit and about my other half who lives in Australia. (laughs) There’s also a bit about having (or not) a wa*k in Dubai.
“They’re against gay people there so it’s also about how to try and accept other people’s opinions. It’s basically an hour of me being funny and silly. I took it to the Fringe last year and it’s on tour until June. I’ve already started on my new material for this year’s Fringe and I’ll probably do wee bits here and there in the Fandan show.”
Larry has learned a lot of lessons along the comedy road including some personal beauty tips.
He explains: “I had a haircut that made me look like one of the guys from Dumb and Dumber. I learned don’t get a £100 haircut the day before your photo-shoot because I looked like an absolute eejit!”
The southsider, who was nominated for best newcomer at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2015 and won the Amused Moose award at the Fringe in 2016, radiates ‘ease’ on stage.
Obviously years of honing his skills and testing the water in dank venues has worked a treat.
A Scottish audience, even after downing a few drinks, is notoriously hard to please and quick to poke fun at a drowning guy on stage if he shows any fear or weakness.
But that ‘I’m still in the pub’ rapport with the audience works a treat and Larry reveals there’s no pre-performance mantra to relax before going on stage.
Larry says: “I’ve been jammy the past three years with great reviews for my shows in Edinburgh.
“Am I nervous? I’m screaming inside. It’s weird, I’m not exactly really laid back before I get on, I’m terrified.
“But if something makes me laugh just before I go on it’s okay. I guess if you’re laid back you don’t describe yourself as it.”
His comedy heroes include Jim Carrey, Richard Pryor, Omid Djalili and Billy Connolly.
“The usual silly jokes made me laugh. When I left school Kevin Bridges was doing the Michael McIntyre Comedy Roadshow on television,” he says.
“There was nothing else like it I’d seen as a comedy show on stage. Comedy was really big during that time and I loved making people laugh.
At school I used to practice in front of the mirror making funny faces and going over a joke I wanted to tell everyone.
“I did a comedy show at school run by the PE teacher who doubled as the show organiser.
“I was told by the PE teacher I was funny and it was a bit of a weird thing but I treated school days like a gig and would think to myself ‘I can make that joke funnier and that one was weaker’, or ‘I didn’t get many laughs from that one’.”
After school and before stand-up took off, Larry worked as a cleaner and a pizza delivery boy.
“I was cleaning toilets and offices and delivering pizzas,” he laughs.
“The toilet cleaning wasn’t the hard job, everyone knows the difference between white and yellow but the pizza company’s slogan was ‘we’ll deliver anywhere in Glasgow’ so they’d tell me an address and I had ten minutes to get from some where like Merrylee to Kilmacolm!
“It was a great place to work and all the workers would take the absolute p**s out of each other.”
Being a ‘straight’ gay man features in Larry’s shows partly because he’s not a camp Craig Hill and mostly, he explains, because he’s a twenty-something male who wants to discuss and dissect relationships just like any straight comedian would.
He says: “I’d not even thought of making my comedy a gay topic.
“A lot of comics talk about their straight relationships and I find it’s a natural thing talking about it in your twenties if it happens to be what you do.
“It’s fun to play with people’s perceptions. It obviously features in my stand-up.
“Some audience members and fans have said, ‘I came out because of you’.
“One woman told me her dad asked her why she watching a gay comic on video and he said, ‘is it because you are gay?’ and she said, ‘yes, I’m a lesbian!’.”
Larry’s partner’s an actor whom he describes as ‘a bit of a pretty boy’.
Larry says: “I think countries have different things they see as camp.
“I met him in Australia and I could tell he was gay but there was no gaydar coming off him. When I showed a picture to my friends they could tell right away. In Australia they have issues with homophobia in wee towns. It tends to be campophobia.
“It’s a terrible compliment I get but someone said to me, ‘I hate gay people but I don’t mind you because you don’t act gay.”
When Larry came out the reaction he received certainly wasn’t what he was expecting.
He recalls: “I did stand-up before I came out and was chatting about it a wee bit on stage and another comic said to me ‘you should never tell an audience more than you would tell your friends or family’.
“My dad began to think I was gay when I started wearing the ring and watch. If you’re a guy and you wear anything silver that is the sign for my dad!”
One of his past routines talks about how he was brought up in a strict Catholic family in the east end of Glasgow and he tells his parents he’s gay and his dad walks out of the room.
He thinks that’s it, his dad doesn’t want to know him. A few minutes later his dad returns and hands his mum a tenner and the penny drops with Larry.
His family were playing a waiting game until he came out.
Larry reveals: “At the time my brother was training to be a priest so he was a bit weird with it.
“My mum was great. She used to be an engineer years ago and was very protective and (laughs) no-one messes with Mary-Jane!”
interview by Susie Daniels
Larry Dean will play The Stand Glasgow on May 13th and The Stand Edinburgh on May 23rd.