Gearóid Farrelly is that rare thing, an openly gay Irish comedian, but in his eight years doing stand-up he’s experienced little in the way of discrimination on the super-straight comedy scene. As he gets ready for a gig in Whelan’s in May, he talks to The Outmost about his influences (or lack thereof), his second nightmare gig, and his desire to impersonate Bette Midler every time he walks on stage.
Hi Gearóid! Tell us, were you always a comedian?
I always enjoyed making people laugh, but I didn’t realise I did. I thought I wanted to be an actor. I used to love when I had a funny story and I told it to someone and they laughed, and the next person laughed more. That’s the comedy bug. Anytime I do comedy I always want to make it funnier.
Where was your first comedy gig, and how did it go down?
My first standup gig was in the Ha’penny Bridge Inn, like nearly every other comedian in Ireland! It was MC’d by Fred Cooke and it went great. I was King of The World. The next gig was the same place a few weeks later with the same set, and I died on my ass. I came off stage mortified and thought: okay, best of three.
Who are the two biggest influences on your comedy?
Nobody. I think the most important thing in comedy is to get rid of influences and get your own voice. It takes a long, long time to develop, but it’s the best way. A comedic influence will always do what you want to do better in your own eyes, so ultimately they can be damaging. That said I always hear bits and think: God I wish I had written that. I tend to be more inspired by people’s work ethic or commitment, or their daring. A lot of the people that I would describe as influences are my matesm because I know how they process stuff. Eleanor Tiernan and Chris Kent are phenomenal Irish comics; we all started around the same time, saw each other develop and encouraged each other.
Do you get a hard time for being an openly gay comedian, given that’s it’s such a straight-dominated profession?
It’s strange, I’m doing comedy about eight years and I can honestly say it has happened twice. I think the majority of people couldn’t care less if someone is gay or straight. I really hope I can stand by that statement when they announce the referendum results on May 23. There is sometimes an expectation from a gay comedian and I’m aware I don’t exactly fit that expectation. I recently had a woman in the front row wag her finger at me saying ‘oh no you di’n’ and make tiger-claws at me. All I could do was laugh at her and ask her if she was okay.
Where would you like to see yourself in five years time?
I’ve no idea. I’d love to still be gigging. I will definitely still be writing and podcasting stuff. But who knows?
Who or what is the greatest love of your life?
Boyfriend, family and friends, notebooks – in that order!
If you could meet one person from history, who would it be and why?
Elaine Stritch – is that history? She has passed away so it’s sort of history.
Who would play you in the Hollywood biopic of your life, and what would it be called?
No question, it would be Bette Midler, and it would be called Sort Of, to account for the fact that she’s a red-head and I’m not. I can’t tell you the temptation every time I start a gig to pick up the mic and totter around saying: “I will never forget it ya know.”
If the world were ending tomorrow, what would you do today
Order a pizza. Nobody wants to be loading a dishwasher at the apocalypse, do they?
The meaning of life according to Gearoid?
It’s to be experienced with people you love, and don’t take crap from anyone.
Gearóid Farrelly is live Upstairs at Whelans, Wexford St, Dublin on Saturday, May 9 at 8pm, tickets here
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