On today’s episode of The Comedy Cast we welcome Irish stand-up comedian Jack Hourigan. We speak about the drive to become the best comedian you can, continuing to search for comedic influences and why oyster farming is good for the soul.
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We kick off the podcast and we go straight into the nerdy comedy stuff. Last time I was in Ireland I saw Jack perform and it was some sight to behold. Jack had a set prepared put once onstage he slipped off on so many tangents that he didn’t perform what he’d set out to do. It was one of the funniest sets I’ve ever seen though, bizarre, hilarious, weird, insightful, a bit sad, it was a full on stream of consciousness kind of thing. Something you don’t see many stand-up comedians doing at all. Anyway, I was so impressed by what we witnessed that night that I wanted to jump straight into it and speak about that type of comedy with Jack.
We have a chat then about why comedy and Jack goes into some of the methodology about why comedy is so important to him and how he seems himself improving over the long term and really becoming an expert on the art of stand-up comedy over the coming years. He speaks too about learning how to utilise his daily life for his comedy, learning that the funny things that happen in daily life can all be used for comedic effect. I ask him then how long had he been doing comedy before he realised that this type of bizarre take on observational comedy was something that fitted his character perfectly. The answer involves a court case over some useless weed charge and it’s great.
It’s a tough line to take in comedy, going up on stage and riffing with the crowd and working out thought son stage knowing that the funny will come. Because, y’know obviously there will be times, especially early in your career, when the funny doesn’t come and you as Jack says ‘end up playing in front of crickets’. But, saying that the better you become at it and the more confident you are in your delivery and your jokes the less that’s going to happen. That’s the theory anyway.
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Jack Hourigan speaks about something very interesting though, even after a good gig he usually comes down off stage feeling bad about his set. And y’know, that really shows someone who wants to keep improving and wants to get the perfect set. Obviously you can look at it two ways, someone who isn’t confident in their set and their abilities, or, like I’ve chosen to do and as Jack does to, it’s this search for perfection. And when you achieve perfection you have to go looking for it immediatly again otherwise you run the risk of becoming complacent.
When it does go wrong there’s always a temptation to blame the audience and it’s very easy to say that you shouldn’t do that but it can happen, one comedian on a night might alienate a crowd and it can be tough for the MC and the other comedians to get them back laughing. But saying that can you still blame the crowd, isn’t it the comedian’s fault then, but shouldn’t the crowd understand that the next comic is totally different?
Jack is from Waterford but base in Cork and as such most of his Cork gigs are to mixed audiences of Irish people and tourists in the city. He speaks for a bit about the differences between gigging in Cork city to going down the country to do smaller gigs in front of mostly Irish people. Jack says there’s a huge difference so it was great to get his opinions on it.
Next up, Jack used to work as an oyster farmer, picker? I’m not sure what the term is, but when I saw Jack perform back in November he told one of the funniest stories about his time picking oysters. I used to go out picking mussels and cockles when I was a kid so wanted to talk to him about his time working outside on some of Ireland’s beautiful beaches. We get talking about why working outside is just the best thing for your mental health and being physically exhausted is far better for you than being mentally drained.
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We get talking then about what drives Jack to be a better comedian and where this comes from. Maybe it’s from working at the oyster farm, or wanting to put his head through a PC monitor at a call centre, but Jack has this thing that the best comedians have, this want to be the best at what he does and the need to keep learning and keep improving. It’s stoicism but without the name. He tells a hilarious story though about listening to a comedy podcast where the comedian being interviewed said something along the lines of everybody is terrible for the first 10-15 years, so it’s a bit of a waiting game but one where you must keep learning and bettering yourself.
We speak then for a bit about his influences and he says something really cool, he’s still searching for them, still looking out for new comedians and discovering old ones too. We get talking then about the nature of self-deprecating comedy and why you have to take the laughs that if you’re telling a story and you’re coming off worse than what the image you’ve presented the audience is then you just have to take the laughs when you get them. It’s like if something makes you sad in real life, but you can make a joke out of it and get people to laugh at it when they’d normally be sad about it then you’re onto a winner. Making them feel happy about what really should make them feel bad or sad.
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