By David Hennessy
London-based Dublin comedian is preparing to perform his lauded Edinburgh show in the capital. Based in London for over two years, Rory has gigged all over Britain and the world. Rory is known for a quickfire style of short gags rather than the drawn out stories leading to the punchline.
Rory tells The Irish World: “I feel that when you’re up there, there’s kind of a nervous thing. You need to get a laugh so I try to get the laughs as quick as I can. If they don’t like one joke, you can give them the next one. If you’re gonna rely on one big punch line at the end of a story and it’s not funny, it’s just going to be a really long story. There needs to be a reward for everybody. If it’s a long story, there needs to be a reward for it. It’s just a style I have, I break it up and I try to have a joke every 30, 40 seconds. It’s just comfortable for me as well as the audience.”
Rory has touched on BBC’s The Apprentice in his material before when he referred to “Jedi” Jim Eastwood from Cookstown who told a project manager in the boardroom that he would not bring Jim back in and more amazingly, that manager complied. This has something to do with the intimidation of the Northern Irish accent, according to Rory.
Will Rory be watching this series of the show? “I do think it’s a hilarious. I love the way the people think they’re great, they’re just so in love with themselves and they’re all amazing. I think it’s great TV because they’re such plonkers. The great thing about that show is that they’ve all found each other, do you know what I mean? Because no one else would entertain them. You wouldn’t go for a pint with someone on a Friday who thinks they’re the best sales person in the world. If they could have mirrors of themselves, they would go around looking at themselves all day.
“Alan Sugar is great because he is a different generation. He came up from literally nothing, selling computers out of the back of a car. He’s a self made man but these guys, I love them all but a lot of them are just chancers. If they were that great, they wouldn’t be on The Apprentice. You would just be doing it, you wouldn’t be relying on Alan Sugar to do it.
“Half of them don’t end up doing anything. One of them (Luisa Zissman) is like a glamour model or something now. She’s in Big Brother and all this kind of stuff. I think some of them are going in it for the wrong reasons. If you’re going on The Apprentice and end up in Celebrity Big Brother, something’s gone wrong along the way.”
How did Rory get into comedy? “Everything I ever tried to do ended up in failure but with a good story. I would always have good stories about how I didn’t pass this exam or how I didn’t get that job interview or drink made me do this. It just kind of led to really good stories and from that I used to make friends and family laugh. As I got older, I saw stand up and thought I might have a go at that and it just led to me doing an open mic and I took it from there.”
How does Rory find London audiences? “London is so cosmopolitan, you could have people there from everywhere. You could do a gig in London, there may not even be people there from London. I enjoy it. They might not be as forgiving as an Irish audience. I think that’s because they’re quite busy,” Rory laughs. “If you’re funny in five minutes, they could elsewhere.”
Rory’s observations can be about differences in culture which ring true: “Most people like laughing at themselves. If you do material about Australians, they will find it funny. They’ll go: ‘Oh yeah, love that’. Irish people, the same. Glasgow people love it. I think all people like that because they feel they’re part of the show as well as the fact that they can see what you’re saying is pretty true. I’ve yet to meet anyone who gets offended by it, do you know what I mean?
“I’m not insulting anyone in any way, shape or form which is a good thing. It’s a comedy show. I’m not picking away at people’s faults or flaws. I’m just trying to look at the funny aspect in comparison maybe to Irish people. We’re not the most positive bunch.”
Rory often makes a joke about with his red hair and name, it is pretty obvious where he is from, ‘Nigeria’. The comedian is often asked if he would like the MC to tell the crowd beforehand that he is Irish: “I often say no: ‘Unless the crowd have never met an Irish person, I think I’ll be alright’.
“It’s a weird one. You would never say that to anyone else. You would never say: ‘Do you want me to tell the crowd you’re Polish?’ Maybe they think: ‘This guy has travelled from Ireland to do the show’. Plus, Irish comedians are quite well liked and people will always go, ‘he should be good’. It does give that impression.”
Rory O’Hanlon plays The Hen and Chickens Theatre Bar, St Pauls Road, Islington London N2 2NA, beginning at 9.30pm. Tickets can be bought from www.unrestrictedview.co.uk or from the box office 30 minutes before the show.