an American accent so I thought: cultural. Just go with it. ‘I’m really good!’ I repeated, mirroring his loud tone, by which time he was beside me, swiping us out... and I could see he had an earpiece in his ear. He hadn’t been talking to me at all, though he’d been looking in my direction. He was having a loud natter on his mobile. He pointed at his ear, giving me a look that said, ‘Prat! Shouting, “I’m grand! I’m really good!” at a total stranger who’s trying to have a chat with a mate on the mobile.’
Afterwards I felt angry with him. ‘Don’t look at other people when you’re talking on the phone,’ I
‘How’s it going?’ the
guy shouted. ‘I’m grand,’ I called back. ‘How’s it going?’ he barked again. Then I
saw his earpiece...
wanted to admonish him. ‘I was born into simpler times, when you knew someone was engaged in a telephone conversation, because they had a big black bakelite receiver in their hand, and were limited in their perambulatory scope by the length of a wiggly flex, okay? I wasn’t being stupid; I was being polite, all right? There is a difference, although you’d wonder sometimes these days.’
I felt like an old fuddy duddy, which leads me to noisy example two. It’s been a while since I’ve been around the stand-up comedy scene. It’s where I started, a very long time ago. It’s where The Nualas evolved, but we generally play theatres now. We’ve little truck with that whole end of things. Unless we’re doing a comedy festival — which we were just before I came up here. We played the delightful Vodafone Comedy Festival in the Iveagh Gardens.
But OMG — most male comics — I’d forgotten the macho posturing palaver, the ‘me, me, me’ egomaniac conversations, the strut of certain pups. I went to a couple of gigs and all I could perceive was a man-size stand-up phallus on stage, holding a mic, while other man- size stand- up organs down the back of the marquee watched — judging, assessing, comparing, in the strutting, sexist, this-is-man’s- business, one- upmanship, phallocentric world of comedy. I used to think, ‘Ah that’s just the way guys are — deal with it; carve out your own space in this boys’ club.’ But because I don’t have to engage with it any more, I stood there thinking, ‘How could I ever have endured being around this bulls**t?’
I’m not saying they’re all like that. Lots of the Irish guys aren’t. But it’s the core atmosphere of the stand-up world: macho cockiness, onstage and off. Any girleen thinking of going into it, I say this to you: do it on your own terms. Make up your own rules. Make your own spaces to perform if necessary. Above all, see cocky, sexist, strutting for what it is and have the courage to call it out. It’s just too much aggressive noise…
Finally, this is for the woman who wrote to me in response to last week’s column: ‘Thank you for saving me from what sounds like an utterly terrifying experience’ (she said she wouldn’t come here now). Sorry, I should also mention swimming in the lake, the convivial company, the supper at seven each evening, the sheer space…
Please, don’t let what I said stop you — any presences, like the silence, can be seen as a call to deeper awareness.
Maybe that’s why almost everyone who comes here keeps coming back.