Entertainment Theatre & Arts

Wednesday 18 September 2019

'I found courage to become comedian after hitting rock bottom', says Joanne McNally

Joanne McNally
Joanne McNally

Sean O'Grady

Joanne McNally has revealed she found it easier to venture into the world of stand-up comedy after hitting "rock bottom" because of an eating disorder.

The former Republic Of Telly star (33) battled bulimia in her early 20s and it was while she was recovering from the eating disorder that she found the courage to go after her dream of becoming a comedian.

"I hit rock bottom with my eating disorder and then went to get treatment," she said.

"I didn't actually leave a job to go into stand-up, I was already not working. I was on sick leave so that made it a lot easier. Because I was sick I also needed a change of scene and was dipping my toe in."

Joanne previously worked for PR company Thinkhouse and admitted she never would have found the courage to quit her former career and go into comedy had she not reassessed things while she was sick.

"I started doing gigs and offers came in and suddenly I was a comedian," she told the Herald.

"I never would have had the balls to just go, 'right that's it, I'm jacking in my job'. I would be too sensible and too insecure and unsure of myself to do that.

"It worked out in the end anyway."

Speaking about her struggles with body image in the past, Joanne said she always had a "weird" relationship with her weight.

"I thought being thin equalled success, that it was the be all and end all of life," she said.

Having been performing stand-up for almost three years, the Dubliner still feels like the new kid on the block.

"I still feel relatively new to it all. I left Thinkhouse and did this competition, which meant you could go and work for your charity of choice and they paid your salary," she said.

"I felt like I wanted a change but I was too chicken s**t to leave PR entirely."

Since Republic Of Telly ended, Joanne has been developing a show with BBC Three.

With so many different ways for people to consume media nowadays, she has found it tough to get her name out there.

"It's harder to sell yourself now because there's so many platforms and people's attention spans are divided up," she said.

Joanne is currently dividing her time between Dublin and London, but is making sure she doesn't devote herself too much to the UK, as she doesn't want to lose her Irish fan base.

"I've no idea where I'm headed but that's the exciting part. I'd like to establish myself here more and then go to the UK," she said.

"I don't want to lose the work I have here. You could go to the UK and it could take you a year or two to get established there and suddenly you have no visibility anywhere.

"I don't know where it's going but I like that."


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