COMEDIAN Kevin McAleer has been talking nonsense for 30 years and shows little sign of stopping.
One of the founding fathers of modern stand-up, he has influenced a whole generation of comedians in Ireland and the UK. On November 8, he comes to Patrick’s Bar in the Market, Ennis after a very long absence from the Clare stand-up scene.
“I haven’t been to Ennis for a long time, too long…some hotel back in the mists of the 20th century I think, but the best pint of Guinness I ever had in my life was in Ennis with a friend around 1993. We both cried.
“It was a very emotional moment. We still reminisce fondly about it. Maybe I can reconstruct that moment when I am there,” he said.
The Tyrone ‘space cadet’ shot to fame back in the 1990s with his regular appearances on RTE’s Nighthawks, leading to sold-out nationwide tours and the best-selling EMI video Turn it On.
He recently showed his face again on TV, “older but not much wiser”, on RTE’s Our Friends in the North series. However, his live shows remain where it’s all at and his timeless brand of original nonsense continues to span the generation gap with ease. Whether he is headlining a student rag ball, or raising the roof off the Royal Albert Hall, McAleer remains at the very height of his craft.
McAleer explains how he broke his way into stand-up, or rather stumbled upon it as he describes it.
“I started doing comedy in the early 1980s in Dublin. There was a new comedy scene starting up there. I then moved to London where the circuit was more established and gradually made a living out of it.
“I feel really lucky to have stumbled on a career in comedy. Before that, I was just travelling and working here and there, and comedy gave me a way of making money doing something I enjoy. The hours aren’t bad either.
“In the early days, the writing came easily to me and the performing aspect was terrifying. These days, I am a lot more relaxed on stage but the writing becomes harder with age. I really have to sit down and drag it out now. Still, it’s a great way to make a living,” he revealed.
Hee doesn’t really embark on tours these days, as he says there are too many gaps between his shows to call it a tour. The Ennis gig was set up via a friend of a friend.
“I’d heard really good things about Patrick’s Bar in the Market,” he said.
Describing what audiences can expect next week, he added, “The show features further adventures of my latest comedy persona, who is a paranoid, very deluded individual who thinks the whole world is out to get him. His language is bit dysfunctional too, which gives me a chance to use some very bad puns, a particular hobby of mine”.
His comedy persona was born after reading Nikolai Gogol’s Diary of a Madman many years ago, and while McAleer says the persona is not based on the story per say, it was a starting point for him.
“The persona has a universal appeal, in that there are paranoid, deluded people everywhere. For example, I did it in Kuwait to a very multinational audience and everybody recognised the persona, I think,” he added.
McAleer’s live shows remain a masterclass in comic timing and delivery and his carefully polished scripts have drawn comparisons with writers of the calibre of Flann O’Brien and Beckett.
With not a word out of place, the result is an evening of concentrated laughter that can leave audiences with hilarious side-effects, such as sore sides and aching jaw muscles.
Doors open for the Kevin McAleer performance at 8pm for a 9pm start. He is to be supported on the night by an amateur comedian selected from an open mic session, which takes place this Sunday at 3pm in Patrick’s Bar.