Porter posted a statement on his website about his ‘quiet life’ in his parents’ home in Tallaght
It was shortly before 3pm yesterday when comedian Al Porter posted a lengthy statement on his website, which quickly went viral.
Apart from a few comments in 2019 in the wake of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) dropping their investigation into claims of a sexual assault, it was his first time breaking his silence and going into detail about his life for the past five years.
The comedian spoke about being “long-time sober”, how he is living a quiet life in his parents’ house in Tallaght and his hopes of being able to resurrect his comedy career.
It was immediately evident that this was a very different Al Porter to the one who had reached dizzying heights in the Irish media world before it all came crashing down in a few short days in November 2017.
Back then, he appeared to have the world at his feet after landing a prime lunchtime slot with Today FM while also fronting Blind Date on TV3, now Virgin Media TV.
He was performing sell-out shows in Ireland, had regular TV appearances on BBC comedy shows and shortly before he disappeared from public life, was due to star in a Christmas pantomime he had co-written.
The star, whose real name is Alan Kavanagh, was gregarious and outgoing and always appeared older than 24, thanks to his ultra-confident exterior.
He spent a brief spell in Trinity College Dublin after getting 580 points in his Leaving Cert, but dropped out after a few months when he decided “academia wasn’t for me”.
He once cited Graham Norton as his ultimate comedy hero, but boasted in one interview that he was “further down the career path than Graham was at age 24”.
And he was right – few stars had managed to land prime time slots on both TV and radio in their early 20s while still performing live shows.
He did it all while continuing to live at home in Springfield in Tallaght with his parents Marian and Mick.
A former newspaper columnist, he was a media darling and could be relied upon to give colourful quotes and revealing insights into his world.
His fall from grace was astonishingly swift after a series of tweets published in November 2017 alleging inappropriate behaviour destroyed his career in a matter of days.
It was not until a full two years later that the DPP announced it was dropping an investigation into one case of sexual assault in Dublin that was alleged to have happened in late 2016, effectively clearing his name.
He made a brief statement outside the court at the time but made no efforts to venture back into public life.
In his statement on his website yesterday, he said he “wouldn’t wish those two years on anyone” and that his life has “changed beyond all recognition”.
“I have a quiet life these days, very different to the future I had once imagined,” he said.
“Back then, I was a 24-year-old comedian with an exciting road ahead, doing the work I loved.
“As I write this, I am at the kitchen table of my parents’ house, where I live, in Tallaght.
“I’m fit and healthy and a long-time sober.”
He said that when the allegations were made against him: “In the space of 48 hours, it felt like I’d lost everything.
“Through a newspaper article, I learned there was a complaint of sexual assault against me made to the gardaí. I immediately and repeatedly contacted the gardaí, but it was a year before I was told what the accusation actually was, which I denied.
“It was another year before the Director of Public Prosecutions withdrew the charge against me. I wouldn’t wish those two years on anyone.”
He said during that time, he had received death threats and read mocked-up headlines saying he had died by suicide.
Porter said the controversy began with people tweeting about him and that some of them were from the comedy scene and he considered them “good friends”.
“These were guys I looked up to. I was just 19 when we all met, and they were the older, more experienced comics.
“They said publicly that I had been inappropriate with them back then, some said that they laughed at the time, but they felt uncomfortable,” he said.
“I remember events differently and we remained in contact for years, messaging online and working and socialising together in person.
“Although I started getting higher billing, and some bigger gigs, I was never in a position of power over anyone, despite what some people may have written.”
‘I let down the people I worked with. And I let down the people who came to my shows’
He has reflected on his life during his five years out of the spotlight and said he was “hugely immature” from the ages of 19 to 24.
“In my personal life I could be a mess, oblivious to the times I was obnoxious. I wasn’t considerate enough of others because I was too busy thinking the world revolved around me,” he said.
“Not to put too fine a point on it, I was an idiot. I let my family and friends down.
“I let my partner down who has been with me since before and through all this. I let my community down, Tallaght, the comedy scene and the LGBTQ+ community.
“I let down the people I worked with. And I let down the people who came to my shows and have always supported me,” he said.
On his decision to step back from the spotlight, he said he “took these issues in my personal life very seriously”.
“I decided to walk away from all my work commitments as I couldn’t possibly keep working and deal with everything else too.
“From the age of 19 my life had been a runaway train, I had been burning the candle at both ends, leaving me overwhelmed and unable to cope,” he said.
He spoke about getting a “major wake-up call” from what happened over the years.
“I paid a high price and learned my lessons the tough way and in the most public way imaginable,” he said.
“As someone who made their living making people laugh, I’m also aware that I can’t make everyone happy but, as they say, fail we may, sail we must. I would rather fail on my terms than sail on someone else’s.”
He said that over the years, he has had countless offers to go back on stage but that he “just wasn’t ready”.
He is looking forward to brighter days and would “like to make people laugh again”.
But what does the future hold for Porter and will he be able to resurrect his once-glittering media career?
Will he be able to rebuild and move on from everything that happened?
One industry veteran said that he “absolutely can” and he is determined to get back on stage again and perform to live audiences again, with the UK a distinct possibility for him.
Shortly before the controversy erupted, Porter had signed a deal for a four-part comedy autobiographical series with BBC Radio 4 in a huge coup for the star.
The same year, he performed a sold-out run in Soho Theatre in London while his hit show Al Porter at Large was nominated for Best Show at Edinburgh Comedy Festival.
He has also clocked up appearances on BBC’s Live At The Apollo and Michael McIntyre’s Big Show.
Looking across the water at fresh pastures and new audiences in the UK might be one serious possibility for the comedian and he could even come back “bigger than ever before”.
“He is sober and has done a huge amount of work on himself,” the industry veteran added.
“If he tries it and it doesn’t work out, he’s strong enough to move on. But it will be on his own terms, not anybody else’s.
“It’s not easy when you have such a huge fall from grace but he has a huge talent and he can absolutely get his career back.
“He’s had loads of offers of gigs over the past while but just wasn’t ready. He is now.”
Clearly feeling optimistic about the future, Porter ended his statement with the Oscar Wilde quote: “Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future. Mine starts now.”