Aspiring gay Irish comedian overcomes homophobic bullying to win major award

Pearse Egan was able to channel those painful memories into his comedy routine and triumph over the trauma.

A laughing man in a rugby kit standing on stage holding a microphone

An aspiring gay Irish comedian, who was mercilessly bullied throughout his childhood, has had the last laugh after winning a prestigious stand-up award.

Pearse Egan, 32, has admitted he still suffers nightmares from the constant torment that was inflicted on him at school in Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, where he suffered homophobic taunts and physical attacks on a daily basis. However, London-based Pearse has told how he recently turned a negative into a positive by channelling his horrific memories of being bullied into an award-winning comedy routine.

In only his second-ever stand-up act in recent weeks at a competition for emerging talent at the respected Up The Creek Comedy Club in the British capital, he beat 15 other performers to be crowned ‘Best Breakthrough Comic’. Now a regular on London’s infamously competitive stand-up circuit, newly-confident Pearse – who’s openly gay – has built up a large and enthusiastic fanbase, which include fellow Irish comic, Joanne McNally, and Never Mind The Buzzocks star, Joe Lycett.

Reflecting on his harrowing schooldays, Pearse – who’s also a trained actor – admits he never could have imagined back in those dark days being applauded and cheered by audiences. “School was the toughest thing I ever went through. It started in primary school, but got even worse in secondary school. Any time I opened my mouth to speak I was called a ‘fag’ or a ‘girl’. I could almost handle the verbal abuse, but one day it turned physical. Another boy kicked me and then another went to punch me.”

Things got even worse in his early teens, not least the day he arrived into his classroom at the all-boys school to see the words ‘Pearse is Gay’ scrawled on the blackboard. He said from that moment the bullying intensified even more, as his tormentors felt a sense of justification in abusing him. However, describing how he has since transformed his past adversity into a triumph, he said: “Undoubtedly I have been hindered. For instance, often before acting auditions I would think maybe my detractors were right. My inner critic throws up thoughts of my worthlessness.

“But to turn a negative into a positive, I’m channelling the bullying from my early life into comedy and creativity. I was picked on at school for my appearance and lifestyle choices. But now I’m evolving as a person and performer, and I keep telling myself that I’m having the last laugh.”

Dubliner Pearse may already be familiar to fans of the TV show Long Lost Family, in which he appeared three years ago, when host Davina McCall helped reunite him with his biological father. Pearse has since built up a strong bond with his Brazilian dad Eddie Santos, who, as it turned out, had always longed to meet his son again.

Back in 2015, the talented Irish comedian, who was living in Australia at the time, also became a star player with gay rugby team, The Sydney Convicts. His journey with the rugby side – the first of its kind in Australia to openly embrace gay players – was captured in a poignant documentary film, entitled Scrum.

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