Sunday 16 June 2019

Guilt and 'knowing how to fail' all part of the day job in TV comedy

Amy Huberman, who has written a new TV comedy called ‘Finding Joy’. Photo: Frank McGrath
Amy Huberman, who has written a new TV comedy called ‘Finding Joy’. Photo: Frank McGrath
Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

It has been called 'a golden age' for Irish women in comedy. Sharon Horgan, Aisling Bea, Amy Huberman, Hilary Rose, Alison Spittle and Jennifer Zamparelli are just some of the big names lighting up our screens.

Sharon and Aisling have come together for a new Channel 4 sitcom, Happy AF, which airs early next year. While Amy has written a comedy in which she also stars, Finding Joy, which begins shooting in Dublin this week, and follows single woman, Joy, who looks for happiness in all the wrong places.

Meanwhile, last week Sharon received some well-earned praise when the New York Times described as being "on quite a run".

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Amy expressed her delight at the success of Irish women on the comedy scene. "It's so great to see so many female comedians, writers and performers doing their thing," she said. "Hopefully as we go on, it won't be something we note as 'other'. It will just be men and women getting shows made."

Giving advice to budding comedy writers she said: "The most important thing is being true to your own voice. 'Funny' can be subjective, it can be universal, it can be anything in between.

"So it's finding, following and being true to what you find funny. There's no point in trying to emulate what you think it should be or second guessing that."

Recently nominated for the role of leading actress in Striking Out at this year's Irish Film and Television Awards, she also spoke about the importance of having a thick skin.

"You have to prepare to fail and be OK with that. In my head, if the worst that that can happen is that it won't work or people won't find something funny, the world isn't going to fall apart. So reach a point where you maybe have a thicker skin. You're never going to please everyone, so I don't think you should try. Do it for yourself and there's an honesty to what you're writing then. It's all about trial and error."

Meanwhile Jennifer Zamparelli described how three pregnant comedians worked on the set of Bridget and Eamon. "[They were] delivering as good of a performance as the men even though they just previously had their head down a toilet from puking with morning sickness."

She describes how Irish women have drawn on their cultural experience to nurture their sense of humour:

"Our experience in Catholic schools, having Irish mammies - a breed of their own - our experience with sex education in this country (or lack of, should I say), it was all a bit messed up so we have to laugh and make jokes about it or the aftermath of these experiences because if we didn't we'd probably cry, and who wants to do that?

"And of course," she added, "unlike any other nationality, we as Irish girls all share the same two hobbies... self-deprecation and guilt.

"I have yet to meet an Irish woman that can actually take a compliment. I pray she's out there but having three sisters and 37 years in Ireland I have little hope."

Zamparelli's Bridget & Eamon, has been nominated for 'Best Comedy' at this IFTAs Television Awards at the end of this month. Horgan has been nominated for best female performance for her role in Catastrophe and is also up for an award in the category of 'Best writer of a comedy/soap' for her work on the same show. The gala award ceremony will take place at the RDS Concert Hall, on Thursday May, 31.

Sunday Independent

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