Comedy Detective Comes To Armagh

Ian Maxwell meets comic super-sleuth Natalie Haynes

As audiences in Derry and Downpatrick can already testify, Natalie Haynes is one of Britain's most talented comedians.

A regular panellist on TV and radio, she burst onto the comedy scene when she was nominated for the Perrier Best Newcomer Award in 2002.

Since then she has toured internationally with her sell-out stand up show Watching the Detectives. If you've ever wondered what some of the great TV sleuths think about the major problems of the world, this is the show for you.

Haynes' list of credits are impressive: a panellist on numerous Radio 4 shows including Quote Unquote, We've Been Here Before and Armando Iannucci's Charm Offensive.

A Classicist, who taught Latin and Greek, Haynes has also written a documentary about how modern comedians have taken their inspiration from Aristophanes, Juvenal and Martial.

Natalie HaynesWhy, with all her accomplishments, had she chosen a career in comedy?

'I guess I was a Classicist first, then a comedian,' she says. 'I started doing comedy when I was at college. I went into teaching Latin and Greek because I didn't earn enough at comedy then, but my heart was always in comedy.

'The journalism and writing came later, so I don't think I picked comedy over them - more that I do them all now, as they've come up.'

Hayne's comedy has been described as 'witty', 'caustic' and 'mightily intelligent'. Who does she cite as key influences?

Her comedy style, she declares, is 'most influenced by the usual suspects: Bill Hicks, Joan Rivers, and comic writers like Dorothy Parker'.

With such an eclectic range of influences, how would she describe her comedy style to the uninitiated?

'Watching The Detectives' is more 'outward-looking' that the earlier ones. There's a bit of observational stuff, and quite a lot about American TV detectives.

'Watching The Detectives' is kind of a story of my love affair with the likes of Diagnosis Murder, Columbo and Murder She Wrote.

'If those uninitiated in my work like Quincy and Ironside, maybe they'll like a show about them.

Haynes has toured extensively since 2002. Do audiences differ across the country?

'Audiences certainly differ. As you can tell from the regularity of my visits to Northern Ireland, I like yours.'

'I find it strange that the south of Ireland has the reputation of being a party town where all the fun is. I always find that Northern Irish audiences are generous and a good laugh.

'They always seem pleased that comics have travelled to visit them. I guess most people just don't know much about Northern Ireland.'

What does the future hold for this well-travelled comedienne?

'My first book is due out in the autumn. It's a children's novel, an adventure story. A bit of a change in direction for me but I hope people will enjoy it.

'I'm hoping to write another book this summer, because I'm planning to have a year off from the Edinburgh Fringe, after doing 5 shows in 5 years.'

Natalie Haynes performs Watching The Detectives at the Armagh Market Place Theatre on February 24