Sean Grant – half of the comedy duo behind the Coasters film – reveals the trials of being professionally funny on an island of comedians.
“So you’re a comedy writer are you? And what makes you so funny?”
Now I’m used to awkward questions such as, “How did you get this number?” and “Were you outside my house last night?” but the “funny” question is a humdinger. Tell them I’m the most hilarious thing since Steve Carell loved Lamp and I sound big-headed, which in itself is a crime in Ireland. Then if I don’t raise a chuckle, I’ve committed the double crime of failing to make an Irish person laugh. And Irish people love to laugh, with little concern for whether it’s with you or at you. See, humour runs in our blood the same way Guinness does; we aspire to die with laughter.
By way of example, in any given local Irish pub there will be a group male friends who, throughout the course of the night, will have dished out an average of about 350 witty, crude or cheesey insults. Zingers range from ex-girlfriends “the tide wouldn’t have taken her out”; to popularity “have you ever knocked on someone’s door and overheard ‘shhhh… he’ll hear us’”?
Irish women might roll their eyes at our antics, and say they’d give anything to meet men of sophistication and maturity, but don’t believe a word! From my experience, what Irish women want most of all is someone who can make them laugh. Someone who will croon Michael Buble on Singstar, swivelling hips out of time while dying a little inside, until she rolls off the sofa in gales of laughter. This is true contentment to any Irish woman, trust me. On an unrelated note, I am currently single.
The diversity of Irish humour – from thigh-slapping belly laughs to dead-pan one-liners – was the inspiration for our film Coasters. Basically two mates (me and my friend Gary) in a typical Irish pub (Russells in Dublin) berating and belittling each other over things like chatting-up the ladies; “a mud-flinging monkey could have done better”, “Oh yeah? How?” “By flinging mud”. I should admit the plotline isn’t as fictional as I would like; I’ve regaled and wearied many a yawning friend with my anecdotes over the years, and deduced that “thanks be to jaysus” is a blessing bestowed upon all the great storytellers as they walk away.
So when people demand to know “what makes you so funny?” I now reply “I’ll tell you, but first, do you want a drink? I can’t stay long ’cause I’ve three gorgeous girls waiting to meet me in the next bar”. For some reason this always gets a big laugh but, to be honest, I had them at “Do you want a drink?”