Kevin McGahern and Alison Spittle love making people laugh for a living and thankfully, they are very good at it.
With the self-described soul of a 53-year-old Jewish man Kevin McGahern enjoys a good rant. A public rant, on stage with a microphone and lucky for you, it’s pretty funny to watch.
Discussing why he got into comedy, Kevin, who is known to many as the former face of Republic of Telly, said he likes the hours.
“I absolutely hated getting up early. This is the perfect job. It starts at 9pm at night and it’s usually in a pub. What’s not to like?”
Alison worked in a radio station in Athlone with Breakfast Republic presenters Bernard O’Shea and Keith Walsh and it was through Bernard that Alison stumbled across stand-up.
“Bernard told myself and Keith to give stand up a go supporting PJ Gallagher in Kavanaghs in Portlaoise. Keith gave me a lift down and we were both nervous in the car. We both did our sets and I felt brilliant after my set. when I look back I bet it wasn’t good but I felt like a queen and wanted to do that job forever.”
Alison also worked in newsrooms and interviewed Michael D Higgins and Eamonn Gilmore.
“I loved elections, I found them so interesting, running around checking tallies, interviewing the defeated.
“But mostly it was making tea.”
Kevin studied animation, worked in a bar, on a building site and was also employed as a mascot for a rum company.
“I was like Duffman, but dressed as a pirate,” Kevin explained.
Kevin and Alison agreed that the audience was a key part of why they chose to perform comedy.
Kevin said he enjoyed the immediate reaction from the crowd. “It’s one of the few art forms where you get a second by second review of what you’re doing directly from the audience… Also sometimes promoters leave a small bowl of mini mars bars in the green room, I like that.”
Alison, who is also the star and writer of the RTÉ series Nowhere Fast and Culchie Club said her line of work leads her to meet interesting people and also gives her an adrenaline rush.
Alison said her current show, which is her second tour, focuses on being in your late twenties and pest control among other things.
Kevin, on the other hand, is discussing topics such as how to get away with drunk driving, how to survive a terrorist attack and avoiding getting shot in America.
The former Hardy Bucks star said controversial topics are part and parcel of the comedy experience.
“You have to allow for irony. Some people think there are subjects you can’t talk about. I don’t agree with that, comedy is democratic. You can discuss any subject you want as long as it’s funny, just don’t make the joke at the expense of a marginalised group. I hate seeing people video clip during a show because you’re losing all context. Comedy is like an orgy, it only works if we all put away our phones.”
Both Alison and Kevin agree that comedy can be a stress-buster, but Alison said she never intentionally tries to write about issues in society.
Alison said: “I believe comedy is a good tool for bringing people together or relieving tension... I just try and talk about stuff that interests me. I don’t sit down and think what are the issues but I do sit down and ask myself how am I feeling and go from there.”
Speaking about the importance of comedy, Kevin said: “It’s a release valve. Laughter is a great stress reliever and it releases those lovely endorphins. It’s also a great place to air communal grievances. Like Joe Duffy .”
Although in the same line of work and both performing gigs in Coughlan’s this spring, Alison and Kevin have different views on political correctness and what it means.
Alison said political correctness is essentially not being rude.
“I think people are unsure what political correctness is and get it mixed up with health and safety. Political correctness is essentially not being rude.
“People should aim to be as sound as possible. Life is too short to make others feel bad.”
Kevin had other thoughts on the topic. “It can be annoying at times. I find it a bit annoying when I see people getting annoyed over small things on someone else’s behalf. Like that time some people said the Notre Dame Fighting Irish leprechaun was offensive to Irish people. I didn’t find it offensive. I thought he was a cool little boyo.” Despite this, Kevin said the growing phenomenon did have an appropriate place in society.
“All in all, we do need some political correctness. Racism, homophobia, and sexism were practically accepted up until the 80s and that’s really not on nowadays. It’s good to see people sticking up for each other.”
Discussing upcoming projects, Alison and Kevin have a lot in the pipeline.
Alison said she is writing a play called Starlet about a transaction in a Toyota Starlet which is being performed in Smock Alley on February 19 and 20.
Kevin is also keeping busy by working on an internet chat show with Owen Colgan from Hardy Bucks called What’s the craic?
’Kevin McGahern is performing his show ‘Sollo Pollo Tour’ at Coughlan’s on 22 February. Tickets €14, www.coughlans.ie.
Alison Spittle is performing her show ‘Makes A Show Of Herself’ at De Barra’s, Clonakilty on March 21 and Coughlan’s on March 22.
Tickets are €14 and available on www.debarra.ie and also at www.coughlans.ie.