Tuesday 20 August 2019

Books: Queen Maeve's wit wins over Manhattan

Comedy: Off You Go: Away from Home and Loving it - Sort of, Maeve Higgins, Hachette Ireland, tpbk, 288 pages, €19.50

Looking for Mr Big: Maeve Higgins is Generation Emigration’s answer to Carrie Bradshaw.
Looking for Mr Big: Maeve Higgins is Generation Emigration’s answer to Carrie Bradshaw.
Off You Go by Maeve Higgins

Deirdre Reynolds

When it comes to book reviewer clichés, 'laugh-out loud funny' has got to be up there with 'unputdownable' or, worse, 'page-turner'.

Adjectivally, it makes critiquing Maeve Higgins' new release - a book that springs belly laughs on you on practically every other page - a bit of a mare.

Back in the noughties, the Cork comedian was better known for giving members of an unsuspecting public mini-coronaries on a weekly basis on RTÉ's hidden camera show Naked Camera. Today, as her star continues to soar Stateside, you get the feeling that it's Maeve herself who half expects someone to pop out from behind the bushes at any moment and yell: 'Gotcha!'

Certainly, fleeing to a rat-infested London flat after the show disappeared from small screens here in 2007, the prospect of ending up on one of the biggest comedy hits in the US less than a decade later must have seemed like nothing more than an American dream.

Part biography, part travelogue, and completely hilarious, Off You Go thus explains how the stand-up has gone from "Wake me up when it's all over" to "Pinch me, I must be dreaming" in just a few short years.

Published in 2012, Higgins' first book, We Have a Good Time, Don't We?, jokingly documented "what it's like to be a regular human girl".

This time round, the Cobh native captures how she's "away from home and loving it - sort of" with all her usual wit and warmth. From the Big Smoke to the Big Apple, Ireland's reigning queen of comedy is currently making a name for herself in the City That Never Sleeps. Or, at least, she would be if anyone could pronounce the damn thing properly.

Whilst careful not to stoop to the tired old "Ireland versus Everywhere Else" routine, needless to say, many of the book's most 'LOLable' moments, to put it in teenspeak, revolve around the 3,107-mile cultural gap between Cork and New York.

Carefully navigating Manhattan's idiosyncratic multi-dating, SoulCycling, 24-hour coffee culture, you might describe the 34-year-old singleton as Generation Emigration's answer to Carrie Bradshaw. Y'know, if Carrie Bradshaw were a lapsed Catholic from Cork whose credit card was rejected when she tried to rent a designer frock.

Earlier this year, the former RTÉ star hit headlines here when she popped up in an episode of the Emmy-winning comedy series, Inside Amy Schumer, on Comedy Central.

Satirising Doggy Daycare, the two-and-a-half minute sketch has since been viewed over a million times on YouTube, with many of the double-clicks undoubtedly notched up this side of the pond.

And promoting her debut movie, Trainwreck, in Dublin, It girl Amy later jested that we're not getting her back: "Maeve Higgins, I'm sorry, but we're keeping her. And we'll send her back for holidays."

The newly blonde writer and actor may be "doing very well for herself" abroad, as her neighbours back home are sure to be saying, with the exception of her tresses however, there's no fear of her going all American on us.

Sure, she's finally got her own rodent-free apartment and has appeared on National Geographic's StarTalk, but the Cork 'kidult' insists she still gets food stuck in her teeth at parties and accidentally fills up on dim sum before hitting the gym. All hail Queen Maeve. Now Off You Go to the bookshop.

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