THE whiter the bread, the quicker you’re dead, the old saying goes. David O’Doherty must have been taking note since York Twenty4Seven’s previous call to the Irish comedian interrupted his sandwich-making routine before that day’s five-a-side football exertions.

“Times have changed. I’m trying not to eat so much bread. Well, white bread, because it destroys your mind. It makes me kind of sleepy,” he says.

Are you sure, David? “It’s probably psychological, but I’m trying to reject the sandwich – which is a serious thing – and drink more soup.

“There’s a great legacy here in Ireland of drinking soup… but it’s quite a sensitive issue, going back to the time of the Irish potato famine.”

We digress. A very much awake David is on the phone from Dublin to discuss David O’Doh-Party, his new touring show, which is destined for the Hyena Lounge Comedy club in York on Sunday night.

“It’s a terrible pun. It’s like ‘party’ with David O’Doherty in it,” he says. “I’ve always liked a terrible pun… but it hasn’t been entirely successful because people have no idea what it’s about, which is fine because they don’t know what to expect.”

David thrives on such unpredictability: his stumbling comedy has been compared to going down a flight of stairs in the dark, thinking two steps are left, but there turns out to be only one.

“The beauty of stand-up comedy is that it’s not ballet and it’s not theatre, and people can interject and take part, so it’s closer to a party than it is to opera… and I like to think to think that blokes might meet girls at my gigs. I always dream that,” he says.

“I’ve always thought going to a comedy gig is a good way to start a relationship – but if it’s a bad show, at least you can discuss it afterwards.”

The David O’Doh-Party night has expanded from a tight hour at last summer’s Edinburgh Fringe to double that length. “I’ve about two hours of new stuff in my head and six new songs, and also there’s an element of panda facts in the show,” he says.

Ah yes, David O’Doherty’s panda facts, or more truthfully made-up panda facts, well, fantastical panda lies in fact, as published in the book 100 Facts About Pandas, co-written with Mike Ahern and Claudia O’Doherty for publication last October by Random House.

“The book is officially a bestseller,” says David. “It’s sold out all the copies, but they’re doing another lot.

“The book is so fancy! The reason we went to this publisher is that they allowed us to make it gold embossed with lots of colour and we took a lot of care over it – so they’re very angry about having to do another print run.”

Comedy comes naturally to David, less so his electronic keyboard skills.

“I am a failure in that I wanted to be a jazz musician. My father [Jim Doherty, ‘he doesn’t use the ‘O’] is a piano player… he taught me some piano, but he has some difficulty in teaching because playing is so innate to him, especially as he’s a jazz musician and I don’t have the ear you need to be a jazz musician,” he says.

Nevertheless similarities exist between jazz and stand-up: the risk-taking, the improvisation, the spur of the moment.

“The thing I grew up with was a disdain for showbiz, that flashy thing of bow ties and dinner jackets, whereas dad and his band would just discuss on the night what they would play. Jazz is really about testing yourself: there’d be five people there, three of them not paying any attention, and afterwards dad would say ‘I really enjoyed that gig’,” says David.

“If you throw the balls up in the air and see how they land, that’s what you want in comedy: an element of spontaneity and being different each show – and I would stop doing it if it got to be me just repeating myself each night.”

There is no danger of that. David O’Doherty’s mind is always on the move. He and his book co-conspirators are already planning a sequel.

“We’re going to do 100 Facts About Sharks as people are obsessed with them,” he says. “With pandas, it’s about being cute, but with sharks, I think it’s all about our fear.”

• David O’Doherty plays the Hyena Lounge Comedy Club, The Basement, City Screen, York, on Sunday at 7.30pm. Doors open at 7pm; tickets £10, concessions £8, on 0871 704 2054. Further dates: The Library, Leeds, tomorrow, 8pm, 0113 244 0794, and Harrogate Theatre on Monday, 8pm, 01423 502116.