IN a world of pain, laughter can often be the best medicine. Now two Cork lads have set up a comedy club that aims to address social issues and make light of them.
Richy Sheehy and Jack Hourigan are adamant there is more to being a comic than igniting a few laughs.
Their comedy club aims to trigger social dialogue through the vessel of satire.
“We pick up an important issue from the news every week as a theme, and if you have a diverse group of comics you’ll get enough viewpoints about it,” Richy says. “There is going to be something new for comics to write material for, every week.”
Their club, called The Tree Fiddy, runs upstairs at An Spailpín Fánach pub in Cork city and welcomes comics who want to humorously tackle social issues like the homeless crisis.
“I remember a politician said the guys who were sleeping in tents across the quay, where buses stop, were like an eyesore and we should move them,” Richy says. “Not that we need to help them, we need to move them, because tourists are coming off the buses on that quay; there is no doubt this would be one of our themes.”
“We have a guarantee for new material every week,” Jack adds.
The pair intend to engage the audience with the routines.
“We ask the crowd to talk about the theme and what their favourite joke was and then we ask them to vote for the best joke, then we give out a medal to the comic who told that joke,” Richy explains.
They are also going to create a podcast version of their club’s stand-up sessions.
“The plan is to make a half-hour podcast with one or two comedians, and maybe crowd members talking about the week’s theme and put it online so, the discussion can continue,” Richy says.
The Carrignavar-born comic is best known for playing the fictional character Kevin Murphy, who is ‘Cork’s Biggest Liverpool Fan’, and a video he posted earlier this year singing a song about its star player, Mo Salah, went viral, with four million views on YouTube.
But Richy says he will be shedding the “light-hearted” persona to deliver politically-charged “dark comedy” at The Tree Fiddy.
Audiences come from across England, especially Liverpool, to Cork, hoping to watch Richy doing what he describes as his “shtick” as Cork’s most fervent supporter of Liverpool’s Football Club.
The 28-year-old admits that some Kevin Murphy fans dislike Richy Sheehy, the stand-up comic. Richy has even been verbally abused over his refusal to pose as Kevin during stand-up routines.
“Once, as soon as they realised that I wasn’t going to do it, they started shouting that I was a c**t until the end of the gig,” he says laughing. “And it’s hilarious, like, because one minute they all love you and the next minute you’re a c**t.”
Nevertheless, Richy does not intend to stop his stand-up routines brimming with moral outrage. He says he wants to turn Kevin’s fame into something positive, attracting audiences to his club to discuss social eccentricities through satire.
“Kevin Murphy gave me a lot of opportunities for my stand-ups,” he admits.
His sidekick Jack, 26, is a full-time comedian who is struggling to pay rent with the precarious nature of his work.
“I don’t want to say comedy is something I belong to because it feels a bit cheesy,” he says, “but it feels right, it’s storytelling. It’s creating negative experiences into positive by talking about them on stage. “
On the opening night of The Tree Fiddy Comedy Club, even though the theme of the night was related to the #MeToo movement, Jack began making light of his preparations to be interviewed for jobs he dreaded landing, and it went down well with the audience. “Everyone can get up and do comedy, every week,” Richy added.
“We reserve spots for complete newbies if someone wants to try stand-up for the first time they’re absolutely welcome.
“We are getting in touch with lads at both CIT and UCC to make sure the club is advertised around there as well as they would probably be good places to find people.”
Jack thinks the comedy gene runs in the community’s veins, and he and Richey felt they needed to increase ‘stage time’ for talented, less-known comics with an interest in darker social comedy.
“I think people with the most serious attitude toward comedy are in Cork and Limerick at the moment,” Richy adds.
The Tree Fiddy comedy sessions run every Thursday night at An Spailpín Fánach pub’s upstairs venue. Cork comics Roger O’Sullivan, Mike Morgan and Mark O’Keeffe, were among the headliners of the club’s opening night earlier this month. Sports journalist and comedian Darragh Murphy’s joke about American comic Louis CK’s sexual misconduct won the club’s very first medal.
If you’re angry about social problems and like to express your frustration through comedy, contact Richy and Jack through their club’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/treefiddycomedy/.