Mike Delamont explores his complex relationship with his late mother.
By John Threlfall / February 25, 2019
Not many people can mark a career highlight while simultaneously returning to the spot where it all started, but that’s exactly what local comedian Mike Delamont is doing by making his mainstage Belfry debut with Mama’s Boy.
“The Belfry informed my idea of what theatre could be,” he recalls. “When I was a kid, I remember seeing shows like The Number 14 and Jim Cartwright’s Two with Nicola Cavendish; I’d never seen professional shows like that, just musicals and high school productions. So to be able to take a show that is so personal to me to the stage where I first started seeing ‘real’ theatre is a great moment — it’s a bucket-list item I never thought would happen.”
Yet for Delamont, who has built his career on larger-than-life divine comedies like God is a Scottish Drag Queen and Hell Yeah! An Evening with the Devil, this latest solo outing hits a little closer to home by focusing on, well, home. More specifically, what it was like growing up with an alcoholic single mother. “It’s intensely personal and does have a heavy subject matter, but it’s a story I really wanted to tell,” he says.
Unlike the routines he’s performed for sold-out audiences at the likes of the Halifax Comedy Festival, Montreal’s Just For Laughs, the McPherson Playhouse and Atomic Vaudeville, there are no Scottish deities, devilish entities or schmoozing lounge lizards to hide behind: Mama’s Boy is just about him and his memories. “It’s reopening a lot of old anger, but at the same time, it’s led to remembering some very funny moments,” says Delamont, who also worked front-of-house at the Belfry circa 2009. “When you kick the door open, you get all of the things inside.”
No surprise, then, that audiences have been split on whether Mama’s Boy is a comedy or a drama. “I want the audience to be unsure of what’s coming next . . . will it be incredibly funny or heartbreakingly raw?” he says. “I would rather people come for a drama and laugh quite a bit than come for a comedy and leave crying: one feels like a bait-and-switch and the other a really nice evening of theatre.”
Written in 2015 — three years after his mother’s death — but not seen locally since a one-night-stand at the Metro in 2016 (“I was on the road for just over 250 days this year, so I’m not in town as much as I would like”), does Delamont think his mom would like Mama’s Boy? “She’d be angry about some things and overwhelmingly pleased with others,” he chuckles.
And then there’s the emotional toll of telling such an intimate story, over and over. Does it get any easier? “I don’t find the show very cathartic yet . . . in fact, it’s still pretty painful,” Delamont admits with a sigh. “But I’ve really enjoyed the experiences I’ve had with people who’ve seen and connected with it in ways I didn’t think they would: it’s brought forth all kinds of conversations, people expressing what they’ve gone through with their own parents, and that has been cathartic for me . . . but performing the show itself? Less so.”