ANNE GILDEA

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - REAL LIFE - Anne.gildea@mailon­sun­day.ie

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.

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