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"Stand-up is king - nothing comes close to it" - a quick chat with comedian Alison Spittle

On dream gigs, comedy moving online and how the audience is a little like a family with an PlayStation…

Image: Alison Spittle

FOR A RELATIVELY small country, Ireland is definitely over-represented by brilliant comedic talent.

Of course, we do have a rich history of story-telling (not to mention messin’), so perhaps it’s no coincidence that we churn out the comics like nobody’s business.

Alison Spittle is one such comedian, currently on the rise. She’s turned her hand to everything the modern comedy scene has to offer – be that Twitter, YouTube, sketch writing, acting and, of course, the big kahuna: stand-up itself, including stints at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Here’s a small taste of her comedic stylings, with her excellent and off-kilter guide to Mullingar from RTE’s Republic Telly:

Source: RTÉ Republic of Comedy/YouTube

We chatted with her about her best gigs, her comedy ethos, and a little bit about what it’s like trying to make a living from being funny right now in Ireland…

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your comedy.

Hi my name is Alison Spittle, I grew up in Westmeath, I left Westmeath, now I live in Dublin 8 where they serve avocados with everything. I never say the same joke the same way. I’d like to think it’s because I’m experimental, but I’m a bit lazy and just write a key word on my hand and talk to the audience.

As a kid, I had a friend with a pool table and a PlayStation 2. I always used to entertain her and her family so I could stay the night and play GTA Vice City and Spyro. I feel the audience is like that friend.

How important has the internet been to your act or pursuit of comedy as a career? Do you reckon Twitter has changed the game up somewhat?

When I started comedy, Twitter was around but was alien to me… I haven’t found a good medium yet other than stand up. I’m bad at updating my website, my Facebook  - and I always think of something funny about this week’s Late Late Show on Monday. The term comedian has expanded to include people that are hilarious in 140 characters, I think it’s great. I respect a person being funny and original in any medium.

You do stand-up, you tweet, act in some YouTube videos, stuff for Republic of Telly on RTE. Do you have a favourite?

Stand-up is king. Nothing will come close to it – everything I do, it’s to help me continue doing stand-up.  I’m making sketches for the RTE Player at the moment, and I’m finding the process fascinating. I’m working with two lads I met at The Firehouse Film Contest. We’re trying to make the funniest thing possible: it gave me a great buzz to make the boom operator laugh.

It’s sometimes said that the industry can be a bit of a boys’ club. Is that something you’ve ever experienced? 

The great thing is that as there are more women doing comedy, sexist behaviour is becoming less acceptable.

It’s a rewarding and wonderful vocation. I encourage funny women to try it. It’s as sexist as other parts of life. There are some sexist comedians and promoters but they’re awful and will go away soon. (That’s not a threat on their lives but progress is like a glacier.)

What would your dream gig be? From support acts, venues, city, to the type of crowd…

I’d like to get a cloning machine and clone myself and my boyfriend times 30, and do a gig to them. I’d have it in Anseo, we’re above capacity so it’s sweaty and I would be on the bill along with Eddie Murphy, Daniel Kitson, Maria Bamford, Maeve Higgins and Paul Currie. I’d be the worst on the bill but I’d be the audience as well, so I’d enjoy it.

Alison has new sketches exclusively on the RTE Player right now. But if you want to catch her live, you can find her in Sligo at 5th on Teeling on 11 April. Failing that, if you’re heading to Forbidden Fruit next month, you can catch her at their legendary comedy tent on the Sunday.

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About the author:

Fiona Hyde

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