Meet the hilarious queer comedians making Ireland a funnier place

Read about some of the brightest queer comedians in Ireland as they discuss their own journeys and have some laughs in the process.

Split screen of queer comedians in Ireland, including Kate Feeney, Allie O’Rourke, Gearoid Farrelly and Aoife Sweeney O’Connor.
Image: Images by Kate Feeney, Allie O’Rourke, Gearoid Farrelly and Aoife Sweeney O’Connor.

Ireland is a nation of storytellers, and as everyone knows, the best stories are the funny ones. With that fact in mind, our queer community has been punching above its weight on the comedy scene for years. We caught up with some of the brightest queer comedians in Ireland to hear about their own journeys, and have some laughs in the process.

Kate Feeney
Queer comedian Kate Feeney has been making people in Ireland laugh from a very young age. “According to family lore, I repeatedly put my dinner on my head, so I guess that was a form of unwelcome slapstick comedy?”

Once her dinner comedy days were over, she found a knack for humour on the stage. “I was cast as Mr Collins in my school’s production of Pride and Prejudice, and I was lauded for how creepy I was,” she explains. That’s the first time I remember getting a laugh from an audience. Why nine-year-old girls were doing Pride and Prejudice as a school play, I don’t know!”

As she outgrew her Mr Collins bit, Kate pursued a more traditional comedy route. “I started out doing improv,” she says. “I always wanted to try standup but was too embarrassed to say that, or do it, for a very long time. I did one or two gigs when I was living in London, but it was only when I came across a night called Open Michelle in Dublin, which was a dedicated open-mic night for women, that I got the courage to give it a proper go.

“I entered the Funny Women competition in 2019 and made it to the semi-finals, so that gave me a big boost. I’ve been lucky to be given chances to perform by the many really great clubs we have here now over the last number of years.”

Throughout her comedy career, two gigs in particular stand out. “Performing at the Paddy Power Festival on the Comedy Crunch line-up was a big milestone for me, and just a really fun gig. A bunch of my school friends came along who hadn’t seen me perform before so that was really lovely. I also brought my first solo show to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2023, which was something I’d wanted to do since I first went to the festival 10 years before.”

Kate’s enduring love for comedy makes it hard for her to imagine doing any other job.

“If I had to choose a replacement for comedy, I think I’d be stuck. I just love the experience of talking with a room of strangers about life! I feel like a priest is the closest gig to it, and I’m sadly the wrong gender for that career.”



Visualizza questo post su Instagram


Un post condiviso da Kate Feeney (@katefeeneycomedy)

Allie O’Rourke
Allie O’Rourke’s comedy career got off to an atypical start while she was in the audience of a comedy club.

“One of the acts on the night was bombing, and kept doing loads of ‘edgy’ material, and I was like, ‘I’m funnier than you!’ So I signed up to an open mic night the next week,” she says. “Basically, I started standup comedy out of spite.”

Allie also found herself less intimidated by comedy when she discovered that it can be accessible.

“It was kind of at the end of my closet era,” she explains. “I started transitioning and I was in that classic trans girl era of not really leaving the house.” At this point, Allie discovered The Chris Gethard Show, which, over the course of its run, began to feature more queer and trans comics.

“I was like, oh, this is accessible! Growing up as anybody other than a white straight man in Ireland, you didn’t see any representation in the comedy world. Seeing The Chris Gethard Show made me go, ‘What’s the worst that can happen? I fail? I’m not funny? Who cares!’”

As Allie’s comedy career grew, she connected with other queer comedians in Ireland.

“I started running a night called Token Straight, which is a comedy night where we have one token straight. That’s been running for over four years. We went from struggling to find acts to having well over 80 comics on my books.”

This sense of community is incredibly important to Allie. “You kind of forget in a modern capitalistic society that art isn’t meant to be commodified. It’s meant to be something we all do and create. The role of a comedian is community builder. You’re weaving a room full of strangers into a space where everyone has this shared experience.”

Allie is fiercely proud of the trans comedy community she is part of but when asked to recall other proud moments, one in particular stands out. “I got the entirety of Conradh na Gaelige to chant ‘Eat more ass’ in Irish. I think that’s got to be up there.”



Visualizza questo post su Instagram


Un post condiviso da Allie O’Rourke (@allie.orourke)

Gearóid Farrelly
When queer comedian Gearóid Farrelly first started standup in the early 2000’s in Ireland, he stood out.

“There were no other gay comedians on the scene at the time,” he explains. “It was a while before anyone else came along, really. A lot of people assume that if you’re a gay comedian that you’ve been gigging for years in gay clubs, but I’ve never played a gay club in my life.”

16 years later, Gearóid has become a regular fixture on Irish telly, embarked on four solo tours and gigged alongside the likes of Joanne McNally and Sarah Millican. But it wasn’t the allure of showbiz that attracted him to standup in the first place, it was the opportunity to perform without relying on anyone else.

“I was just fascinated by the comedy circuit,” he says. “I came from a theatre background, so it was all rehearsals. And these people were just rocking up in their t-shirts with ideas and talking things through. I liked the idea that I could come up with a line sitting on a bus, and then be on stage that night talking about it. It was so immediate. And I wasn’t relying on anyone else.

“With acting, you’re constantly relying on someone else to believe in you, or somebody else to cast you. With this, I write my material, go on stage that night and make people laugh. You can build a show quickly, and I’m not reliant on venues or a sound technician or another actor. We’re all just control freaks at the end of the day!”

Leaning into the immediacy of comedy is how Gearóid develops his best material. “I always say that I hate writing standup,” he states. “I could sit at a desk and write narrative all day, but with standup, you’re writing jokes, and then you go on stage and that’s where you weave it all together. It’s on stage that you’re constantly adjusting how you build the story. So often, if I don’t know how to end something, I just leave it and because your brain is firing with new material, you’ll come up with it on stage.”



Visualizza questo post su Instagram


Un post condiviso da Gearóid Farrelly (@gearoidfarrelly)

Aoife Sweeney O’Connor
For comedian, cabaret performer and theatre-maker, Aoife Sweeney O’Connor, comedy is a space to explore queerness.

“I wasn’t out when I started in comedy and it wasn’t until I was a year into it that I started incorporating my queerness into my sets,” they say. “If I compare what I do in comedy now to how I started, it’s just miles different. I’m now doing it as a much freer version of myself and I think that connects with audiences on a deeper level, because there’s just truth to it. I love performing to queer crowds in particular because there’s a certain connection already there, and it’s a connection I’m grateful for, because as a non-binary person, I love seeing things that help me feel represented. When you’re non-binary, you can feel almost invisible at times, so I love going to a show and seeing all my non-binary body doubles connect on that level.”

It’s this connection that made one of Aoife’s career highlights all the more special.

“My proudest moment on stage was last September. I was the co-host and co-producer of my fringe show Egg: The Proclamation of the Irish Republegg. Egg is a cabaret show that I run with my friends, and it’s a whole community of people,” they explain. “We got this opportunity to bring it to the National Stadium and bring it to the next level. It was so silly and so queer and so full of love and goodness and egginess. People left feeling like they really experienced something, and that was the goal. I’m a very proud egg.”

Indeed, as a wearer of many hats – comedy, cabaret, acting – Aoife takes inspiration from many different sources, from musical theatre legends like Liza Minelli and Stephen Sondheim to pop divas like Madonna and Cher. However, there is one woman Aoife puts on a particularly high pedestal. “I love Nigella Lawson,” they admit. “I truly think she’s a great inspiration to us all. The queen of the mee-cro-whav-é. If you’ve never read How To Eat, you’ve never lived.”



Visualizza questo post su Instagram


Un post condiviso da Aoife Sweeney O’Connor (@aoifebella)

This story about queer comedians in Ireland originally appeared in GCN’s February 2024 issue 382. Read the full issue here.

© 2024 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

Support GCN

GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.

During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.

GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.

0 comments. Please sign in to comment.