‘I think I’m the funniest’
Comedian Rory O’Hanlon tells Fiona O’Brien about the differences between Irish and British audiences and why he draws on real life for some of his best
Following two previous packed-out Fringe runs, Rory O’Hanlon has fallen under the media-radar somewhat of late, but this August he is back at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Unlike many of his contemporaries O’Hanlon’s material is mostly based on himself, and his own views on everyday life rather than focus heavily on politics and current affairs. “It’s just what I am used to naturally speaking about in everyday life,” he says.
The Dubliner’s anchor material this time around is based around his recent love affair with yoga. Hot yoga to be precise. Earlier this year, after sustaining a running injury, Rory undertook a crash course in hot yoga. Never in his wildest dreams would he have felt comfortable in a room full of strangers in just his shorts, but hanging out with men called Apple and posing as a tree were soon to become a big part of his life. Once he had overcome the heat stroke, yoga opened up a whole different mind-set for Rory and the benefits soon became obvious.
“It’s crazy how it changes you. I’m based down in Clapham, and the class there, everyone was sound. But that’s not always the way.
“Once I thought I was a fully-fledged yogi I went to a few different locations and it was taken very seriously. You’d get dirty looks if you weren’t able to put your legs over your head straight away.
“But yeah, it had a really positive effect. This industry is so hectic and fast-paced that it really just gave me time to think. To really think!”
Having started his career in Dublin, the award-winning writer has become a firm favourite at comedy clubs across the UK and Ireland. He jokes that although there is a huge influx of Irish comedians in London at the moment, he’s ‘probably the funniest’.
“It’s strange because growing up in Dublin and starting out there, you’re the local lad. And then some of your material isn’t relevant to even Irish people outside of Dublin. Maybe even to people from a different part of Dublin.
“So it’s all this learning curve of trying to make it universal. And then you come over here, and you’re the ‘Irish comedian’. Obviously you can’t just joke about Ireland or people can’t relate.”
A regular face on Irish TV, Rory’s credits include Republic of Telly, RTE’s New Comedy Awards and Under the Influence alongside Des Bishop, and has performed all over the world, from Moscow to Berlin, Monte Carlo to Brussels.
“Stand-up is definitely my favourite part of comedy. It’s hard to get TV or acting gigs, but you can just go on stage anywhere and the reaction is instant. It is such a buzz, even all these years later, so is definitely my favourite.” And what about his favourite and horror stories from shows?
“My worst gig was on a boat in Dublin, I thought it was going to like a booze cruise, in fact it was parents and their young children. It was a long swim to shore. My best gig was last year at the Comedy Store in London, what a great night.”
O’Hanlon is also looking forward to the Fringe Festival this August.