Theatre

Aye, what’s the craic? Celebrate St Patrick’s Day with these Irish comics

Our resident comedy blogger Ben Keenan celebrates St Patrick’s Day with some words from his favourite fellow funny Irish guys and gals.

Top of the morning to ye! Ah to be sure to be sure! These are just some of the phrases you’ll never hear in Ireland, just saying!… Happy St Patrick’s Day! Ah paddy’s day, a day were everyone regardless of colour, creed or ethnicity, don ridiculous oversized Guinness hats and drink until they forget who they are, where they are and what they’re talking about. It’s total bants. In America they paint the rivers green and have multi-million dollar parades to celebrate our rich and colourful heritage. Show-offs. In Ireland and the UK we cram into tiny pubs and sing along to our favourite tunes from The Pogues and proudly slur our way through the Fields of Athenry. But it’s widely acknowledged as the best party of the year, and you’re welcome. Even here in England it puts St George’s day to shame. Who the feck is St George you ask? You know St George?…. He was the patron saint of.. Oh it doesn’t matter.

But why? Why is it that we Irish can go anywhere in the world and feel warmly accepted? One word, craic. No not that one. ‘Crack’, as it was originally defined in English, meant a loud conversation or bragging talk. And in a rare flash of reverse cultural appropriation it found it’s way into everyday Irish life as a way of greeting. ‘’Well what’s the craic?’’ ‘’Any craic tonight?’’ you get the picture. Broadly speaking it means fun and we Irish love to have fun. Some historians believe that the uniquely Irish sense of humour and fun was a direct result of using humour to cope with the hardships endured during the famine and the workhouses, so, y’know… hurrah for hardship!! Because we have some funny countrymen past and present who are flying the flag proudly! Tommy Tiernan, Dave Allen, Ed Byrne, Jason ByrneDara O’Briain, Aisling Bea and Sharon Horgan. Loads sure!! But you know about them already so let’s here from some relatively unknown comics making a name for themselves here in London.

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Up first a funny man, John Meagher, who I grew up two streets over from in a N. Ireland but only met over here a few months back.

I’ll be sure to make up for lost time as he’s a genuinely funny and interesting lad. Besides he’s teaching me how to sound Irish again after my 14 year absence in Philly and England!

Well Jon, what’s the craic?

“The “craic” is a great word with no literal English translation – we also don’t have a word for yes or no in Irish; which I think gives a little insight into the Irish psyche. The craic can be bad, good, great, mighty, or at peak craic, it’s 90… never 100… NEVER 100.

“The Craic is the party, it’s the reason we’re out on a Friday evening – especially if work is bad craic, and without it the world is a very drab place – especially if there is a Craic Vacuum around; someone who is soooooo little craic that they actually suck up everyone else’s craic like a Harry Potter Death Eater… or Donald Trump at a Mexican Wedding. In short….the craic’s mighty.”

Well put. So how has being Irish affected your comedy aspirations? 

“Being Irish has affected my aspirations in that I grew up watching some of the most incredible comedians; and a lot of them are from at most between two to four hours away from my house. Tommy Tiernan, Dave Allen, Dylan Moran, Jason Byrne and so on. Seeing these guys do something different than just another setup punchline [after] setup punchline, gives me the confidence of “well if they can do it; so can I”.

Is this a good time to be an Irish comic in London?

“I don’t know if there’s ever a good or bad time to be an Irish comic, or black comic, or muslim comic, or female comic, or whatever other comic in London or anywhere else. I truly believe that funny is funny, and if I can connect with an audience it doesn’t really matter to them where I’m from… although they do love an Irish brogue over here!”

Now meet Grainne Maguire, muso, intellect and funny boned Irish lass!

Grainne, what’s the craic?  

“The craic is big, the craic is hard, the craic is intense.”

Nice. How has being Irish affected your comedy aspirations?

“The best thing about being an Irish comedian is that you can get away with being a lot more pretentious than your British pals. If something doesn’t work you can claim the silence on stage was a intentional nod to Becketts Waiting for Godot. If they disagree, call them racist….”

Tell me your favourite Irish joke….

“My favourite Irish joke is a true story. Apparently after Jedward met the Obamas’ on their visit to Ireland they were asked what it was like to meet the President of the United States. They said it was amazing, because it meant they were one step closer to meeting Britney Spears. That story fills me with so much national pride, I might get it tattooed on my chest one day.”

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There is a theme here you wise people have figured out! Up next Matthew McAloone a Belfast comic and promoter tearing up the London comedy scene.

Well Matthew, what’s the Craic?

“Mighty, as we’d say back home. As an aspiring comedian and comedy promoter, it’s always busy, but great things on the horizon so optimism is high. Plus it always helps to be pretty! [laughs]”

Is this a good time to be an Irish comic in London?

“I think London is just a great place to be as a comic, regardless of nationality, simply because the population affords opportunity. The downside of that is the quality can be glaringly poor and I think a lot of potential audience are in the ‘once bitten, twice shy’ boat when it comes to semi-pro, local comedy nights. That’s a big part of why I’m setting up my own network of nights via my production company, @bigandcleverpro.

And finally a young women who I have the pleasure of sharing the bill with this year at Edinburgh’s feckfest is the wonderful Aideen McQueen.

Is this a good time to be an Irish comic in London?

“It’s brilliant being an Irish comedian in England! You benefit from the positive racial stereotyping that Irish people are generally funny or can have the elusive “craic” – sometimes people will shout out “potato” but nobody has thrown one at me yet. There is a stereotype out there that Irish people are a bit stupid and sneaky, but that seems to have been mostly based on one episode in Faulty Towers and it’s all but gone!

Tell me your favourite Irish joke…

“My favourite Irish joke….. Why did the leprechaun wear two condoms ? To be sure, to be sure!

“It’s brilliantly stupid but it also reminds people that the Irish people are becoming more progressive when it comes to dealing with contraception. Best joke ever!”

Ah that’s some nice Moorish craic right there!

Now I’m off to the pub to drink my weight in whiskey until I see the leprechaun that tells me to burn things. Wait that’s Ralph in The Simpsons… Happy Paddy’s day!!

Be sure to follow Ben at @itsbenk for more of the same and to find out about all his upcoming gigs.

 

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