Having a good laugh on Leeside

Comedian Alison Spittle takes to the stage at City Limits Comedy Club on Saturday. She tells Jane McNamara about her exciting return
Having a good laugh on Leeside
Irish comic Alison Spittle. Picture: Pat Moore

WHILE many comedians dream of comedic success as a child, for Alison Spittle the idea of getting into stand-up came from someone else.

She says: “Most of the things I have done have been someone around me telling me I should do them. I am really lucky to be around great people.”

London-born Spittle moved to Westmeath at age six and after studying radio began working as a researcher at iradio.

“Bernard O’Shea, who is now on Republic Of Telly, was the breakfast DJ. He told me I should do a stand up gig. I was about 21 at the time.

“Before I did my first gig I really didn’t care. I didn’t like watching stand up when I was younger and although I was always having a laugh in school, I didn’t see comedy as a viable thing.”

However, it wasn’t long before Spittle had caught the comedy bug and was travelling up and down to Dublin for gigs.

“It was a lot of hard work but eventually I had more opportunity in comedy than I did in radio.”

In recent years she has written a series of sketches, Comedy Bites for RTÉ, written and performed a segment on Republic Of Telly called A Guide To Mullingar and started her own podcast, The Alison Spittle Show. She is especially excited about her sitcom, Going Nowhere Fast, which will air on RTÉ in November.

“That was really hard! It has taken over my life the past two years! I am starring in the show with two other main actors. It is based around three teenage friends who are reconnecting as adults in a small village in the midlands.”

Spittle is always working on material for her stand up and says she never says the same joke in quite the same way.

“I love stand up because you get to do your short spots at comedy clubs and then long shows where you can talk about stuff you care about.

“In the past I have talked about my mental breakdown, for example. It is the most dramatic thing to have happened to me in the past while and I got a lot of material from it. It is a universal thing when it comes to mental health and, for me, I talk about what I know. It is observational comedy.

“I am not trying to tell people how to get better, number one, I haven’t got better and that is not the aim. I can’t help anyone and I don’t want anyone thinking they will get any sage advice because they won’t! But I do have people reach out and say nice things about what I share and they are really cool. I really appreciate it.”

Spittle added: “If it’s a nice crowd I might try and do a bit of ad-libbing during a show, and if the crowd are more conservative I will just stick to the material. Stand up is all practice. If you look back at yourself a year ago you should be able to say to yourself that you are better now.

“When a stand-up gig goes bad it is the worst feeling of humiliation! But it is not the end of the world if you fail at stuff. If you can do it and not be afraid, you will get better.”

Spittle shares her memory of last year’s City Limits Comedy Festival.

“I love the Cork comedy festival! It was one of my favourite things I did last year. I actually introduced George Hook on my podcast in front of a live audience. That was just really surreal because he loves to crack jokes rather than be interviewed so it’s hard to have control over him!

“All the comedians played foosball which was great. Foil Arms and Hog are really good at foosball. Actually, they are just really good at everything! I am really looking forward to coming back to Cork this year.”

Spittle cites Cork’s Maeve Higgins as one of her favourite comedians. “Maeve is my hero. She is amazing. I had her on my podcast and she talks about giving a comedy workshop in Iran which was so interesting. Laura O’Mahony from Cccahoots is doing really well too. I love their work.”

Spittle said: “For aspiring comedians, I think the biggest thing is getting as much stage time as possible. There are a lot of comedians around now, they are more visible. I think during the recession when people didn’t have a job and were on the dole, they thought about what they really wanted to do with their lives.”

For more see http://alisonspittle.com/ and www.thecomedyclub.ie/

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