Jarlath Regan is one of Ireland’s most prolific comics, boasting a decorated career that has spanned almost ten years and yet he is rarely interviewed. November 21st his last Irish show as he prepares to move to London and finally enjoy a packed schedule of gigs. We caught up with him after his Stand-Up-Table-Quiz hybrid ‘Stand-up and Answers’ to talk about the state of Irish comedy and what comes next.
There’s a great turn out tonight, how did the model for ‘Stand-up and Answers’ come about?
This was grown out of a show I used to run called the ‘No Pricks Show’ which meant there was an understanding that people were going to see new material and you had to put your ‘inner prick’ aside and let the comedian fail or succeed. As a result comedians started to believe that you could do a show like this and it would be fun and bring a good crowd.
This format here really seems to work because people love stand-up and they love table quizzes and both of these are still relatively new phenomena in Ireland. My life and work has changed drastically as a result of people staying in at the weekends; this is a good crowd but it is unbelievably difficult to fill a comedy club.
What sorts of difficulties are associated with that in terms of audience expectation?
I think a typical Irish audience has a weird expectation of a certain amount of audience interaction to make it feel spontaneous; otherwise they don’t feel like it’s genuine. They also take their comedians very literally, which is why there are very few character comics. Unless they’re wearing a wig and giant hands Irish people don’t deal well with people playing a character – like Jimmy Carr playing a prick. The Irish audience is expecting to like their comedian and could go for a pint with him. That said, I think Irish people are starting to enjoy new ideas and formats more.
So you’re moving to London in order to get a fully booked diary having reached sort of a stumbling block – what could change here to kickstart Irish comedy?
Well, I’m moving like many other comedians before me so it’s not really a stumbling block it’s inevitability. If you think about it you can’t reach the world from Ireland, it’s a simple numbers game. In London you can play two gigs every single night of the week and you’ll never see the same people twice whereas here it seems to be the same people again and again. I love Ireland, but I’d like to see audiences have more of an open mind about buying tickets to see people they haven’t heard of. It’s this new phenomenon that people will only buy tickets to see people they’ve seen on TV. I think there needs to be a paradigm shift where people realize that everyone, Dylan Moran and Bill Bailey included, started off their careers in clubs like these so it’s worth going to your local comedy club, but I don’t see that happening. Why would you go to your local comedy club when you can just look somebody up on YouTube?
What would you like to have achieved by next year?
Well achievement is a funny thing because there’s the achievement that people see and then the achievement that you know yourself. I want to be a better comic, I want to have a show I’m really proud of and by next year you just hope you’re doing the best show you’ve ever done. The thing that keeps you going is that you have yet to write your best joke, it’s the amazing thing about stand-up in that we just keep getting better. Michael Jordan will never be the basketball player he was when he was 23 but when you commit yourself to stand-up you only improve and that’s what makes me really excited.
Jarlath Regan’s last Dublin show is in the Laughter Lounge on the 21st November. Tickets o’er here.