Taking a Stand
By David Hennessy
Although he is known as a Dublin comic and has been regularly seen on The Panel and other Irish television shows, Andrew Maxwell has been working in the UK since the very start of his career. Seventeen years in London now, the popular performer had no hesitation when asked to be part of Dave’s One Night Stand series with a London show. One Night Stand sees a stand-up play to their home crowd and Andrew explained to The Irish World why he couldn’t take his show to Dublin.
“The whole premise of the series is that you do a theatre in your home town but Ardal O’Hanlon and Jason Byrne had both done Dublin and Tommy Tiernan did Wexford. I’ve lived in London since I was 20 and my first ever gig was in Hackney Empire. I’d always wanted to play Hackney Empire again, it’s just a brilliant Victorian theatre so when Dave came to me and said: ‘Hey listen, Dublin’s blocked off, we’ve done it a couple of times. Do you wanna do Hackney Empire?’ I was like: ‘Yes, I do.’”
The current series of One Night Stand also includes Al Murray and Patrick Kielty while Johnny Vegas, Sarah Millican and Ben Elton are just a few of the big names to feature in the past: “I was definitely pleased to be asked. The comedy circuit is a small world and I’d only heard good things from my friends who had done One Night Stand, just saying how well it was produced and how well they were treated. They’re the things that count so I was always like: ‘If I get a chance, I’d really like to do that one’. I have to say it was sublime.
“The fun bit was at the start. You have to do a bit of an intro where you go to your home town and do a bit of a walk around. I was in Wood Green in North London. It is scummy but it is really multi-cultural, literally everybody on the planet is looking for a bargain on Wood Green High Road every hour of the day. The premise was that I’m totally colourblind and I can only see Irish people. I can only see that everybody in Wood Green is Irish. We filmed all day laughing our heads off with me and the crew going up and down, anybody with anything green on them: We would just pounce on them. We had Somalians, Polish people, Chinese, orthodox Jews, West Indian rastas, Nigerian dudes, Turkish guys, literally everybody under the sun. They were all up for it once we told them the premise: ‘That all I can see is Irish people and you must be Irish’. They were all willing to look down the barrel of the camera and go: ‘I’m Irish’. It was funny. It was just a really silly thing to do all day.”
Andrew believes it is a shared experiences that move so many nationalities to identify with the green, white and gold: “Culturally, being Irish is an unusual spot when it comes to the immigrant community in Britain or in America. We were the first ones and we were the first immigrant community to face systematic abuse. There are places that were Irish slums and have become Eastern European slums, Eastern European/Jewish slums, West Indian slums, Black African slums. The first wave of any immigration in any city in Britain or in America was Irish. The Irish were there first and we were told to piss off first. I think that’s where the kindred spirit comes from.”
Although never leaving his roots behind, Andrew warmly talks about how the English capital is home now but he still loves to go back to Kilbarrack: “London is home but I’m home (Ireland) all the time. I just made a new TV series in Belfast, a new panel series called Monumental with Jimeoin, Michael Smiley and Adam Hills: That so that will be out in the new year. I just did the Galway Comedy Festival. I’m back and forwards all the time. It’s more that the people I grew up with, I’m still best mates with. I’ve lived in London for 18 years now, I still feel more at home than a lot of people that go away to university. There’s a natural cycle of life, people go away to university, they go a separate way from the people they went to school with and they often don’t have that connection, whereas I’m still mates with the same clowns that I grew up with so I’ve never felt estrangement. I always keep up with the Irish media and what’s going on back home.”
For the full interview see the December 1 issue of the Irish World