Anyone who ever believed women weren't funny was soon put in their place by a wave of brilliant Irish female comedians, among them Alison Spittle, Joanne McNally and Eleanor Tiernan. Where the likes of Deirdre O'Kane and Tara Flynn once blazed a trail, many others comfortably followed in their jet stream. Except, we know now, it probably wasn't all that comfortable.
Last month, a number of allegations of sexual misconduct and sexism within the Irish comedy industry came to light on Twitter. One entertainer was accused of sending unsolicited photos of his genitals to another performer, as well as being emotionally abusive and manipulative.
What followed was a slew of similar stories from women either working within the industry, or women who had set out on a comedy career, but soon found the working environment too hostile. As #IBelieveHer trended, a disturbing picture of misogyny and abuse of power within the industry came to light. A number of Irish comedians called for change within the industry, among them Kevin McGahern, Eleanor Tiernan and Alison Spittle.
Cork-born Maeve Higgins, who left Ireland in 2013, watched the Twitter revelations unfold last month with "a kind of jaded horror".
"Sexism and misogyny play an outsized role in Irish comedy, from the open-mic scene right up to who gets to be on RTE," she observes. "Success in Irish comedy has little to do with talent. From sexual assault to anti-women jokes on and off stage, to unsafe car journeys, to repeated rejections from every type of gatekeeper, sexism finds big and small ways to keep women out. Usually, after a few years, we leave the industry; you can see that in the numbers of people who have 'made it' in Irish comedy.
Dubliner Emily O'Callaghan founded Comedy Gold, a club night that strives to be more inclusive with regards to race, gender and sexuality, than many others. She founded the club night as she was "tired of seeing the same eight white men perform".
"For us, it wasn't a case of finding a certain gender or race - just funny people. And we were able to find them in abundance," she says. "People come up to me after their set and say, 'this is different, somewhere I feel comfortable'."
While the 'women aren't funny' tenet has been put to bed, there is still very much a feeling that comedy is majoratively a boys' club.
"The problem can be anything from the guys in the corner of the club grouping up and resorting to base humour," says O'Callaghan. "I've heard of so many women who, as the only woman on the bill, can't wait to just do their set and go home. Women experience comments about their looks, and I've seen male MCs implying things like 'this is the token woman we need to have here'. What worried me is women who may have considered a career in comedy will just think, 'I'm grand, I'll just have a laugh with my mates in the pub'."
In recent days, the push for a comedy code of conduct has gained momentum. Ruth Hunter, now based in Glasgow, admits she was forced to quit comedy due to the 'toxicity' of the scene.
Speaking to Hot Press, she noted: "I can remember being the only woman on a line-up in a certain venue," she recalled. " I talk about sex in my set, and the booker seemed to think this was an invitation to start speculating to me in graphic details about what kind of kinky sexual stuff I was into."
With others, Hunter is campaigning for the establishment of a clear and unequivocal code of conduct to be binding on all Irish comedy performers.
"We need men and women speaking up, and other men to say when it's not okay if their buddy is behaving badly," notes O'Callaghan. "We need venues where people can just perform and not have to constantly appease promoters."
If things are allowed to continue as before, Higgins notes, the audience also stands to lose out.
"Women are often resilient and resourceful and I hope even those with the worst trauma from navigating such a hostile system are able to find ways to be funny and free in their lives. The biggest loss from all of this is talent," she says.