Alison Spittle has been playing the Dublin comedy circuit for two years, starting off with a quick weekly round-up on Bernard O’Shea’s radio show and now bringing the Republic of Telly crew back to her hometown of Mullingar for a tour. I chatted with her about her new show Stoat Toast, being a woman in comedy and…Morrissey.
So tell me about your first full show, Stoat Toast.
It’s basically me telling myself ‘Feck it I’m going to do an hour this year or what am I doing in comedy?’ I’m very happy with it though, I did a preview last month and my mother came up to see it. I delve into the family break-up in it quite a lot – from the perspective of me punching a jacket potato – so I was really afraid of her seeing it but she was grand.
How do you feel you’ve developed over the past couple of years?
I realised that I actually wasn’t a very good comedian about a year ago and sometimes I look back and stuff and I’m like ‘JESUS’. I’ve changed an awful lot in the last two years, I did an interview with Hot Press about the whole female comedian thing and I was like ‘oh I think it’s great that people single out female comedians because it means less competition’ and I look back at it now and cringe.
How do you find that being a woman in the Dublin comedy scene, especially with things like Carol Tobin’s article in the Sunday Independent being so badly mistitled?
Amongst the good comedians it’s very big, accepting community. There are some comedians that aren’t in the game a lot anymore who had a lot of demeaning stuff in their acts. But it’s something I’ve only become aware about since I moved to Dublin.
I went through most of my life not realising I was female. Like in school I used to hang around with boys and girls 50/50 and my school was quite progressive. It wasn’t until I went to college and started in comedy, I’d get a lot of people coming up to me and saying ‘you’re very good for a female comedian, I don’t like female comedians normally’ and before I used to take that as the biggest compliment ever. Now, you know, I don’t really appreciate it, like I wouldn’t go up to a black comedian and say ‘I don’t really like black comedians but you’re good’. You’d never say that to someone. So things like Carol Tobin’s article in the Sindo really pissed me off.
Where would you like to get with this set, what kind of comedian do you want to be?
Death of Comedy actually pushed me into thinking about what kind of comedian I would like to be. With this hour long I’d like to do more comedy about base feelings and my reactions to people and my observances of their mannerisms. I used to do really dark stuff and now I’m taking a new direction, like writing about my parents’ divorce and discussing being a teenager and having very black and white ideas about the world and learning to deal with the grey areas.
I’m actually really into Maeve Higgins at the moment but when I was growing up I didn’t really enjoy stand-up comedy… it was kind of like when you first enjoy music, like I would’ve loved Daphne and Celeste, but then I heard Morrissey. I’m not such a big Morrissey fan now but I loved him. I had two pieces of his shirt that I used to keep in a lunch bag and sniff before I went to bed. The smell of sweat and patchouli oil was amazing. I guess I’m still developing.
Alison Spittle presents Stoat Toast at the International Bar on July 13th, as part of 10 Days in Dublin.