Comedy Showhouse Radio Comedy Festival

Comedy Showhouse, Ireland’s first ever radio comedy festival kicks off on the 31st of January, running for eight days at the Project Arts Centre, Dublin. Sideline Productions have teamed up with RTÉ Radio 1 and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland to produce a series of eighteen half hour radio comedy shows. It’s an ambitious project, with two shows being recorded each day. Even more exciting is that they will all be recorded in front of a live audience. I went to the launch of Comedy Showhouse in the Project Arts centre to find out more.

I have previously attended exactly one opening night. It was a friend’s solo play, which she described modestly as “a dissection of the inner emotions of a jester”. The play itself ran for four hours and was staged in her parent’s garage. To be fair, there was an intermission where we were each offered a single Jaffa Cake. In other words, as far as I was concerned, the bar was set pretty low for this event. However, I needn’t have worried, the Project Arts Centre had done us proud. There was a generous spread of ridiculously cute cupcakes, adorably tiny sandwiches and miniature cucumber slices. In fact, the food was so appealing it was difficult to know whether to eat or frame it. The entertainment was provided by Sean Hughes and that fabulous trio, The Nualas. It was hard to believe they’ve just celebrated twenty one years in comedy, and they looked suitably understated in their dazzling red sequined cocktail dresses. Sean hosted a quick-fire quiz about legends of comedy, in which the crowd performed terribly. We only got one question right between all of us – and even that was only through heavy prompting. Then The Nualas sang an ancient ballad of a young buck named Fionnan – which was both disturbing and very funny.

The Nualas -
The Nualas via

Comedy Showhouse itself is sure to be a real treat for any comedy nut, with over forty acts playing. One of the best features of any comedy show is the variety of performers. Comedy Showhouse mixes firm favourites of Irish comedy, such as Karl Spain, Andrew Maxwell, and Deirdre O’Kane, with rising stars like Foil Arms and Hog and Colm O’Regan. Most importantly for us here at HeadStuff, Gearóid Farrelly of the Fascinated podcast on the HeadStuff Podcast Network will be interviewing comedy actress and Oscar nominated writer Kathleen O’Rourke on the final night of the festival.

I spoke with Colm O’Regan about the upcoming shows. He grew up listening to BBC Radio 4 comedy shows and Adam & Joe podcasts, Colm believes that this link-up between stand-up comedy and RTÉ could not only prove popular with listeners, but mark a new opportunity for Irish comics. He reckons that the internet age has left us all with attention spans of squirrels (that’s about a second – I looked it up online) so we need a platform that will keep us captivated for the short time we are still paying attention before a new meme comes out. Thirty minute radio shows hosted by Ireland’s best comedians with great special guests could be just the ticket. Speaking of tickets, the tickets for the live recordings are a reasonable 10 euro each and are available here. Each recording is limited to 100 people so get in fast to ensure you hear your distinctive laugh on Radio 1. 

Main image via