Getting notions about comedy

A new comedy duo have released the first episode of their web series, Notions, on YouTube. JANE MC NAMARA chats to one half, Valerie Lynch from Clonakilty, about writing the series
Getting notions about comedy
Valerie Lynch, from Clonakilty.

WEST Cork native Valerie Lynch is no stranger to the world of writing and performing. In fact, while studying drama in Trinity, the Clonakilty woman was head- hunted for a teaching position in New York’s prestigious Long Lake Camp for the Arts.

“In 2010, I was taking a year off from studying. I had been cast in a TV show for RTÉ called The Rumour Room. It was a kids’ show. Adam Sandler was a guest on one episode, it was great fun.

“During that year I also won RTÉ Radio 1 ‘Ireland’s Funniest Person’ for my comedy song I’m That Asshole At Parties Who Pulls Out My Guitar. I had that on my CV and put it up on a website and suddenly I found myself hired to teach comedy at Long Lake! So I flew off to New York.”

Lynch says: “I spent two summers at Long Lake and it was surreal. It is the number one performing arts camp in America and suddenly I was head of the department. I taught Woody Allen’s daughter, I taught Martin Scorsese’s daughter, all of these massively high profile people.

“It was crazy, these people are obviously connoisseurs of comedy. You want to make them laugh! During the year then I came back to Trinity where I decided to specialise in stand-up.

“During those years I was at every comedy gig. I was the entertainments officer for the DU comedy committee in Trinity and booked The Hardy Bucks and Maeve Higgins. I supported Des Bishop and various people like that. Stand-up is a real passion of mine.

“When I graduated I decided to go back to New York again on a graduate intern visa. I worked at BSI-TAOTS (The Academy of Talented Scholars) in Brooklyn and while I was there a play I wrote, Gilligan’s Survivors A Tragicomedy in Two Acts, was selected for the Venus Adonis Festival. We put it on off Broadway. A reviewer came to that from examiner.com and gave it five stars. Then it was selected for another festival and a series of fortunate events happened which ended up in my being signed to Drama desk Awards Talent agency by the founder, Robert R. Blume. Eventually my visa ran out and so that is up in the air at the moment.

“After I came back from the performing arts camp in New York the first time I started working in W.H Smith in the airport and that is where I met Eoghan McQuinn, the other half of the duo behind Notions.”

McQuinn, an actor, writer and filmmaker from Dublin, is signed to the Ann Curtis Agency and was in the feature film Stitches.

Lynch says: “I thought Eoghan was great and we both thought each other was funny. When I left for New York again he followed my progress on Facebook and he thought it was hilarious what I was doing. I posted some stuff and we kept in touch.”

Lynch explains how Notions came about.

“Then, when I moved back to Cork after my graduate visa ran out, Eoghan suggested we do a series and record together. It was really out of the blue. My visa had just been rejected and I think I was using the term ‘Notions’ for my wanting to go back to America.

“We talked about all the surreal things that had happened. We talked about an Irish person going to America and getting ‘notions’, and we just started playing off each other.

“Eoin knows the format much better than I do so we decided on a web series with fairly short episodes. The first is 15 minutes long. We had no budget and completed the series in three weeks. A lot of the comedy is off the cuff improv.

“I think a lot of great comedic ideas come in low pressure environments. I think our idea is good and if we had a budget and got a commission it would be fantastic.

“At the moment we have only released the first episode but already we have gotten some response. One of my all time favourite actresses, Aisling O’Sullivan watched it and liked it. That was amazing.

“The more people encourage us, the more we absorb it like sponges. We have so much fun writing and recording together and that is so rare.

“I would say if you are interested in seeing the result of blending the sarcasm of Always Sunny in Philadelphia with the strain of The Comeback, topped with frantic Irish flair, this show is for you.”

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