Saturday 22 October 2016

People ask me ‘Are you the girl who had the lad poo himself in the gig?’

Published 08/09/2016 | 15:48

Alison Spittle. Photo: Patrick Bolger
Alison Spittle. Photo: Patrick Bolger

The Westmeath woman talks about the person who pooed his pants at her gig, women in comedy and how stand-up is a way of advocating mental health.

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Alison Spittle is a name which is fast becoming one of the most prominent in Irish comedy.

Fresh back from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where she had a number of sell-out gigs, she’s busy preparing for the upcoming Tiger Dublin Fringe which kicks off this weekend.

The 27-year-old often brings people to the verge of tears with her relatable and witty tales, but she has never had someone literally wet themselves – until Edinburgh this year.

Performing her show ‘Discovers Hawaii,’ Alison discovered the little mishap was actually a good way of getting her name out there.

“I know this sounds so bad but it got me the best PR ever because whenever I was chatting to someone, they would say ‘Are you the girl who had the lad poo himself in the gig?’ – I think I’ll put it on my poster for next year,” she laughed.

Comedian Alison Spittle
Comedian Alison Spittle

Despite laughing about it now, she was at the other end of the emotional scale when it actually happened.

“I started crying because I felt so sorry for him. I couldn’t do the show with him in the room. People were complaining in the hall about the smell. I had my first reviewer in that day too, so I was properly panicking.”

Usually her gigs run smoothly, with the exception of the odd heckler, but Alison admits she’s well able to put them in their place.

“Generally, I get drunken guys heckling me, thinking that it is a good time to ask for the ride while I’m doing comedy. I just destroy them like. The confidence of a man in a white shirt with a Guinness stain - I don’t know how he sees the situation could go in his favour at all,” she said.

"It takes a community to bring up comedians. I get uncomfortable around people who are not nice to new comedians. It’s like people who are not nice to animals, it’s not normal.”

The idea of being heckled on stage is something which Alison thinks deters a lot of women from going into comedy, but she has this advice for any budding female comedians.

“The first time I got heckled, I got scared too. But you must remember the power is with you. You are the one who wanted to get up on stage; you have been let on stage. This person is a little sneaky spotlight stealing act. If they had any balls, they would be up doing it themselves.

“It’s like a streaker at a football match, you just continue playing football, while he ends up looking like an idiot just standing there with his lad out,” she said.

Alison recently organised a gathering in the Workman’s Club in Dublin for women who want to get into comedy. Female comedians shared their advice and experiences with women who have always had a desire to do stand-up, but have yet to take the plunge.

“I would have coffees with people to chat about comedy and there are a way bigger number of people wanting to do comedy, than there is doing comedy,” she explains.

“I have seen women cry after not having a great gig and I have seen them not come back afterwards. I just thought - what if there was some kind of group where you could meet up and tell them everyone dies at a gig, but you carry on.  There is a stereotype out there that there is deep competition between women. It shouldn’t be like that at all. The more women there are doing comedy, the more it normalises it.”

As someone who went counselling when she was younger, Alison believes comedy is a great way of destigmatising things and advocating mental health.

“Andrea Farrell is an Irish comedian and she is doing a show about her anxiety and stuff and I find that Irish comedians are becoming a lot more open and I really like it. I feel like we are kind of turning a corner. People are being more confessional.”

Alison is due to perform on September 18 at the Tiger Dublin Fringe which is taking place in the Project Arts Centre in Temple Bar. The event is running from September 10-25 and will feature performances from some of Ireland’s top comedians.

Ever tweet about The Late Late and think “If only I could leave my house and have this much fun?”

Then Alison’s show is definitely worth checking out.

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