Comedian Grainne Maguire chats to The Irish Post ahead of her gig this Saturday night as part of the London Irish Comedy Festival Edinburgh Preview season, which runs until June 14 at the London Irish Centre in Camden.
What makes you laugh?
My Mam and Dad. I was home at the weekend and my Mam told me she and my father had discussed space travel.
She would love to but my Dad apparently “wouldn’t be bothered at all”. I don’t know if NASA has been informed yet but I’m sure it’s put a real dent in their mission to Mars programme.
When's the last time you really laughed?
I’m reading Cheryl Cole’s biography at the moment and their account of their early courtship with Ashley that made me howl.
He wooed her with text messages “wot u up 2” she replied “not much, wot u up 2?” Apparently then and there she knew something special was happening.
What's the best joke you've ever heard?
My friend once admitted she didn’t know the difference between the EU and the UK. She was 29 at the time and from outside London. I still sometimes give her a pop quiz on wether Paris is UK or EU and it never stops being funny if not a sad indictment of the British education system.
What made you get into comedy?
I always loved programmes like Father Ted and Blackadder. I remember going to see Sean Hughes when I was 13 and listening to a tape of his show for months afterwards. I could probably still recite parts of it now.
Who is your favourite comedian?
Lou Sanders. She is in equal parts genius and bonkers. She is going to be a massive star.
What's the most common misconception about comedians?
I think people think that it’s a glamorous job. I think people think it is, it’s so far removed from the reality I genuinely find it hard to get my head around why they would think that.
It mostly involves a lot of trains, new material nights and motorway service sandwiches.
Any situations you just can’t find humour in?
Laughter is resilience, it’s our protection against the slings and arrows of a cruel world. It’s whistling through a graveyard at night. Where’s there’s laughter there’s hope so I think any situation is improved with a bit of levity.
How do you deal with hecklers?
I shame them with niceness. Nothing puts a drunk attention seeker in their place quicker than someone genuinely appearing to care about their well being. Failing that, I say something really mean about their hair.
What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you at a gig?
I once asked a girl in the front row what she did for a living and she replied “Grainne, I used to live with you”. Turns out it was my old flatmate I hadn’t seen in about two years, she’d changed her hair so I hadn’t recognised her.
That was a bit odd. A lot of the rest of the gig was me asking if I had any post I needed to collect.
Do your friends and family think you are funny?
My granny always thought I was hilarious. I used to put on shows for her when I was about four where I would bring her bathroom mat into her kitchen and tell jokes on it like I was on stage.
I’ll be honest I stole a lot of Brendan Graces material at the time and for that I’m very sorry.
Is there a difference in UK/Irish humour?
I think british audiences have more of a respect for actual jokes whereas Irish audiences prefer more banter and story telling. Sometimes when I gig in Ireland it feels like if it becomes obvious you’re doing prepared material the audience feels like you’re cheating in some way.
Should comedians have lines they don't cross? do you?
I think if a comedian is going to attack something or someone, it should be someone in a position of power.
You should never ever punch down. There is so much injustice in the world, so many instituitions and people that need to be challenged and knocked, I get frustrated when comedians instead use their talent to attack people who are already demonised by society.
There was a fashion a while ago to make “Chav” jokes and they made me incredibly uncomfortable.
What's your best personal comedy moment to date?
I did The Kilkenny Cats Laugh last year and my parents came along. That was nice. My name was written up on posters and everything, they were very proud.
What can we expect from your set at the London Irish comedy festival?
You can expect a lot of laughs, me checking my note book, a few Cheryl Cole references and probably something about me fancying Ed Miliband. What can I say? The man is my muse.
Tell us a joke right now...
If vegetables are so good for you, why are they named after people in comas.
Catch Grainne Maguire at the London Irish Centre Camden this Saturday at 7.30. Buy tickets here.