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irish comedians

It’s certainly hard to get a word in edgewise when surrounded by three queens of Irish comedy. Joanne McNally, Alison Spittle and Enya Martin (Giz a Laugh) interrupt each other, slag each other off ann make everyone there break out in laughter. Except for the fact that I'm here to chat to them about their involvement in Vodafone Comedy Festival, the whole experience is rather like have a coffee with your mad secondary school friends.

We chat gigging, feminism and the sesh with three of Ireland's fastest rising comedy stars (serious girl power up in here).

SHEmazing: So tell us why you're excited to be part of the Vodafone Comedy festival this year? 

Joanne: “It’s really international this year, more than it’s ever been. There's lots of Netflix people. Loads of podcast people, loads of shows I’ll be going to see. 

“When you gig with American comedians at the Iveagh gardens they want to know if cultural references work, which is fair enough. ‘Like do you guys know what a mortgage is?’ I was like ‘no’ we don’t know what a mortgage is your set is f**ked.

“It's my third year doing it and it definitely gets easier each year. The first year was terrifying cause festivals are a strain, it’s not like you’re in a comedy club. There’s this whole line-up of people, especially when you’re new and people don’t know who you are. It's a much tougher gig but you get to do big rooms and feel like a super star."

Alison: “Everyone in Dublin comedy aims to be at the Vodafone Comedy Festival. I remember the first time I got it, I emailed with organiser with the headline ‘generic begging email’. Like 'I’m not even that good but please’. The day I got the email that I got it was one of the happiest career days of my life.

Enya: “It’s a really good environment it’s really fun. You have good time it’s not really serious." 

SHEmazing: Do all the comedians hang out together after the shows? 

Joanne: “It’s the only time of year comedians get together really. We have a drinking tent." 

Alison: “Some drink suits some comedians better than others. Doing comedy is like being in a mad family. Like they’d break up your wedding but you still love them."

Joanne: "Yeah, a lot of comics aren't exactly the most stable of people."

Alison: "They’re a bit like taxi drivers. You can be crazy and be a taxi driver and be crazy and be a taxi driver. You could not wash for days and be a taxi driver and the same with comedians."

Joanne: "It depends on what type of comedian you are. Some comics are spilling their souls onstage."

Alison: "And backstage, and in the car on the way there."

Enya: "Sometimes your best jokes can come from minutes before you come on. Something that happens and it extends into ten minutes of material.”

Have you noticed a change in comedy in wake of the Me Too Movement, Repeal campaign etc? 

Joanne: “People are very quick to be offended now. People err on the side of offended straight away. At the same time, I don’t think comedy is supposed to be a safe space. So what if you get offended? Sit and be offended for a bit, it’s not going to kill ya. I think comedies supposed to push things and if you’re muted than what’s the point.

“I don’t have it in me to be politically correct. It’s not supposed to be politically correct, that’s not funny. There’s a lot of virtue signalling in comedy with people getting up on stage saying I don’t see gender or race. It’s like are you blind? If you’re not racist, you’re blind.

“No one wants to be preached to, I don’t want to go to gig and be told how to live my life. That’s not real." 

Enya: “The only time I talked about Repeal in my gigs was about my name. I was named after the singer Enya and her famous song was Sail Away. I’m a twin and you don’t plan twins, so it’s only when you’re listening to the song sail away you’re like that’s where the name came from.

“That’s the only time I really talk about it cause if you keep on dropping the ‘oh f**k’ bomb then people are less accepting than if you occasionally drop it in there."

Alison: “Abortion is a part of everyday life, as is suicide. Like it happens everywhere why are we ignoring it? As a comedian you should be allowed to reflect the world."

Enya: “It really depends on the approach.”

Joanne: “If it’s done humanely and in a tasteful way. Sometimes you don’t know whether to know ignore everything that’s going on in the world and just do pure daft escapism stuff or do you talk about what’s happening.”


A post shared by Enya Martin  (@gizalaugh_enyamartin) on

SHEmazing: How do you think Youtube, Facebook etc is changing the comedy landscape? 

Enya: "Growing up I always got really good reactions from friends and family with one-liners I didn't even mean to be funny. I just always had a way with words. It was only when I started doing the Facebook videos did I actually think that I was on to something. I never even thought of doing comedy but it’s a whole new platform. I did it the untraditional way, backwards from the screen to the stage."

Joanne: "Online works well if you have characters, I don’t do characters."

Enya: "The characters are all things that people can relate to, things that people are talking about. You kinda develop something off that and it’s all about people tagging in the comment section. Like ‘omg this is our friend or our mam’."

Joanne: "I think characters can get away with murder. You can say anything in character."

Enya: "That’s why I started doing characters because I was too shy to be myself so I hid behind the characters. I’m much better now, before I couldn't even watch myself on camera but now I’m grand. I still mute it when I’m editing though because I hate the sound of my own voice."

SHEmazing: It's Father's Day on Sunday, got any good Dad jokes? 

Alison: "My dad has a joke: child maintenance."

Enya: "I learnt a song in primary school ‘clap hands, clap hands till Daddy comes home.’ So I sang it for my mam and she said ‘don’t sing that you’ll have no hands left.’"

SHEmazing: What advice would you give for young women who want to go into comedy? 

Joanne: "Gig your face off."

Enya: "The market’s wide open, there’s not that much competition."

Joanne: [jokingly] "Thanks, Enya."

Enya: "Women-wise, there’s not enough women in stand-up comedy. There's a massive advantage to that."

Alison: "When I first started out I was like that too. I would do a gig and people would come up to me like you’re the funniest woman onstage tonight, I’m like the only woman onstage tonight. There’s more great women doing it lately. Comedy has gotten better as a medium and as a lifestyle choice." 

SHEmazing: So are there certain advantages to being a girl in comedy right now? 

Joanne: “A lot of male comics have had to reign it in. Female comics can say stuff now that men can’t say. We definitely have more freedom."

Alison: “As women we’re always empathising and we’re always doing emotional labour anyway. So when you’re doing stand up it kind of bleeds into that.

“I wish we could talk about wanking, though.”

Enya: “Sure look at the three of us here now. It’s nice to have three women be the faces of this comedy festival. I think it’s definitely women are more powerful than anything this year, through all the movements.”

Vodafone Comedy Festival will take place between the 26th to the 29th July and tickets will go on sale this Friday, 15th June at 9am. For more ticketing and line-up information see here.


Another day, another British publication claiming our beloved Irish comedians as their own. 

Ed Byrne and Dara Ó Briain have hit the roads of South East Asia for a three-part travel series, Dara and Ed's Road to Mandalay.

The programme, which kicked off on RTÉ One last Thursday, follows the duo as they mix with locals and visit some of the most exciting locations the region has to offer.

The series made its British debut on BBC 2 last Sunday, and sure enough, The Guardian had a thing or two to say about it the next morning. 

It read, "The increasingly dull and unedifying formula of sending white British men to far-flung places in search of 'strange and quirky' aspects of other cultures."

"The latest are Irish comedians Dara Ó Briain and Ed Byrne who, in Dara and Ed's Road to Mandalay, travel across Malaysia in the first of a three-part series exploring south-east Asia, 'one of the most rapidly changing places on earth'," 

However, the Wicklow native wasn't going to let this one slide. 

The word 'British was later deleted from the online review – but of course, Dara had to get the last word.