‘There is no outlet for comedians outside comedy clubs anymore’ - David Coffey on launching Phoning It In podcast
A brand new Irish comedy podcast has just launched, providing a much-needed platform for both up-and-coming and established comedians to flex their improv muscles.
Phoning it In is a half hour podcast which is completely improvised and spoofs Ireland’s popular radio phone-in shows.
The brainchild of Dublin writer, director and actor David Coffey, it features a different panel of performers each week. None of them have a clue what they’ll be talking about until David introduces them.
“We’re all in studio together and the first inkling they have about what they’ll be complaining about is when I introduce them and they have to think on their feet and react,” explains David.
“Sometimes they’ll go in a very unusual direction and sometimes they’ll take a more mundane route, but then it might go very weird.”
So far the line-up has included Dublin based actress, writer and comedian Hannah Mammalis, US comedian Erin McCarthy and Kelly Shatter and Luke Benson, co-creators of the hit web series The Long Dark Twenties.
Future episodes are set to feature rising Facebook star Tony Cantwell, comedian Ali Fox and members of the Dreamgun comedy collective.
David has racked up an impressive CV of programmes from Fade Street to various children's programmes in the course of his career, but his first foray into comedy was with Dan & Becs, which he wrote and directed (and co-starred in with Holly White) for RTE. He also co-wrote and directed the ten part comedy series Sarah and Steve for RTE 2. However, he doesn’t think those programmes would be made today and the opportunities for comedians to be heard are fewer.
“I was very lucky to get a show on air at a young age,” he says of Dan & Becs. “It was only a ten minute slot but RTE doesn’t really do those short form slots anymore. Also, The Panel is long gone. Republic of Telly was a great place for young comedians to get noticed, but it’s also gone.
“It’s a lot harder to get something on TV that doesn’t have proof of success already. The Damo and Ivor TV show was proven online and then on Republic of Telly before it became a TV show. It’s harder to make that jump but particularly when there are no longer any avenues like Republic of Telly. There’s no way to build an audience.”
He continues, “There’s a bit of comedy here and there on the radio breakfast shows but that’s kind of it. Where do young comedians go now to be heard outside of comedy clubs?”
Posing this question led David to develop Phoning It In. He has also been doing long form improv for a year himself, and loved it, so this provides an outlet.
Phoning It In drops every Monday morning on the Headstuff Podcast Network, and will resonate with anybody who has tuned in to Joe Duffy’s Liveline on RTE Radio 1 and thought WTF? However, he says Phoning It In is an 'affectionate' spoof.
“I grew up listening to Adrian Kennedy and Chris Barry and Joe Duffy would have been on with my mum listening and I always found the shows just fascinating,” he says.
“It’s such local parish pump stuff people complain about on Joe Duffy every day. There’s so much time to fill it’s just bananas. And there’s sometimes some really surreal stuff coming through. Every so often you tune in and think ‘this is mad, this is on our national airwaves’!
“I love Joe, particularly how he approaches it, he listens to everybody deadly seriously, soaking up as much drama as he can out of everyday situations. It’s just fascinating the way it works.”
David records an hour of material in studio every weekend for the Monday drop. He says he edits it down to half an hour to ensure it’s consistently funny.
“It’s great fun,” he says, admitting they constantly crack up despite their best efforts to play it straight, “Every time I’ve recorded it it’s been so much fun, such a laugh.”
To listen to Phoning It In, visit: https://www.headstuff.org/phoning-it-in/ or subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. You can follow the show on social media @PhoningItInShow.