Every classroom has its clown but teacher Ronan Dunne was so impressed with one pupil's gags he helped him launch a precocious career in stand-up, reports Michael Shaw
THE last thing most teachers want to hear is a wisecrack from the class comedian.
But Ronan Dunne was so impressed by one pupil's jokes he is now the 10-year-old's manager and books him gigs on Liverpool's comedy circuit.
Each week he meets young comedian Gerard Loftus in a Starbucks cafe where they write material and prepare performances, which are only on Friday and Saturday nights and early on the bill.
Mr Dunne spotted Gerard's talents when he taught him three years ago at Holy Trinity Roman Catholic primary in Garston.
"I felt he had a real talent - he was not just funny, he had a sense of irony and satire," he said.
Mr Dunne stopped Gerard after lessons one afternoon and suggested he should perform at a friend's gig at a club in Garston.
Since then the schoolboy has made more than a dozen appearances at comedy and working men's clubs across Liverpool and performed at the city's annual comedy festival.
"I never thought about stand-up before Mr Dunne told me about it," Gerard said. "Now I want to train as an actor so I can be an actor and a comedian like Lee Evans."
Like much stand-up comedy, Gerard's material translates badly to the page because it relies on his delivery. His routine ranges from fart jokes (which play well with student audiences) to observations on families and schools.
Popular gags include a rant about the violence in nursery rhymes, in which blind mice have their tails hacked away and maids have their noses pecked off. "No wonder I have to see a psychiatrist every week," Gerard mutters.
Gerard's comedy idols include Jack Dee, Peter Kay and the disabled comic Gary Skyner, with whom he has performed on a handful of occasions.
Next month he features in a cabaret show alongside Jessica Noon, the actress who plays Kirsty Gordon in the TV soap Brookside.
Gerard is still at Holy Trinity but Mr Dunne has moved to St Gregory's RC school in Netherley, Liverpool, where he is deputy head.
He has invited the young comic to his new school to run master-classes on joke-telling for pupils.
Mr Dunne said: "We give all sorts of encouragement to children who are interested in music or sport but there are almost no opportunities for those who want to try stand-up comedy.
"At a time when there is so little creativity in the national curriculum, it's strange that we don't provide courses in comedy for the gifted and talented."
The world according to Gerard..
"If your school days are the best days of your life then how come there's a teacher shortage?"
"My friend Billy says I'm the teacher's pet. I'm fed up of that cage."
"We were doing literacy the other day and our teacher asked us to give her a sentence with the word 'definitely' in it. Sarah put her hand up and said: 'Miss, the sky is DEFINITELY blue!.'
"Miss replied: 'Good try, Sarah, but sometimes the sky can be grey or even orangey yellow at sunset... er, Jim?.' 'Miss, jumpers are DEFINITELY grey!.' Miss said: 'Good effort, Jim...but jumpers can be blue , red or any colour really... er, Billy?' 'Miss...are farts lumpy?' Miss was horrified and snarled, 'Of course not, Billy!'
"Billy smiled and said: 'Well in that case, Miss, I've DEFINITELY crapped myself.'"