Karl Spain plans to get comfortable in Gorey
Veteran comedian Karl Spain made his debut on Friday last as the new resident MC at Gorey Comedy Club's for its first gig held at the Ashdown Park Hotel, and he is looking forward to building a new relationship with the locals over the coming months.
With about 20 years experience in the Irish comedy scene, Spain is a household name but in 2020 he wants to make sure that comedy is something that brings people outside their homes rather than having them laughing in isolation.
'People that go to comedy gigs know they'll get a good night out and nothing gives me greater joy than people going home happy.
'I played Gorey before and it has always been one of my favourites. During the Fat Chancers tour, I had the opportunity to meet the audience afterwards, which can sometimes be a bad idea, but it was great craic.
'I'm hoping to see some of those faces back again with us this time'.
Karl explained that research is important for comedians, so that they can face an audience ready for anything.
'In a small town setting, if I'm chatting to someone in the audience from the stage, chances are 50% of the room know who that person is.
'They'll know if I'm being lied to, and it'll get a laugh but you have to make that decision then and there whether to stick with the lie or to go somewhere else with it.
'Comedy gigs are made in the moment and generally gigs are a joy, as there's a common connection in comedy and it's a great conversation starter'.
Karl said that the hardest thing about doing comedy professionally is the time spent travelling.
'I try not to be away too long, at one stage I was spending three weekends out of four in the UK and you can be away an awful lot.
'I'm living with my girlfriend, and it's not fair on her to have a boyfriend that's never around.
'But it's the adrenaline of being on stage that keeps you going. In the past I've gone on stage while ill, but 'doctor stage' kicks in and you keep on going no matter what condition you're in'.
Karl has regular residencies in comedy clubs across the country, from Galway to Clonmel, but he said that he now has the ability to be picky when it comes to what projects he is involved with.
Lately he has been judging stand up competitions across the country, such as the Galway Vodafone Comedy Festival, in the search for new upcoming talent, which he said there is plenty of.
'I plan on doing more competition work in 2020. At the start of my career I was in a competition in Edinburgh and it's what got me established and got me known.
'If someone beats you in a competition, you hope that person goes on to be really famous,' he laughs.
He said that new technology and streaming channels such as YouTube allow budding comedians 24 hour access, and that they don't have to spend as much time attending gigs to get ideas for material.
'Recently I judged a competition with the Ray D'Arcy show and that saw 18 different new comedians.
'My favourite thing about comedy is that you don't have to come from anywhere, you can come from any walk of life or background. It's like a disease that we all catch.
'Some are daunted by the audience, but you have to remember that 99.99% of any audience just want to laugh'.
Karl said that he has seen first hand the changes in the Irish comedy scene.
'It had changed before in terms of sensitivity, especially the next generation after me but it's always changing.
'What was said in the 1970s would be totally unacceptable now in some cases, but the problem with some is that they say something for reaction rather than a laugh.
'Humour can be found everywhere, but you must do a joke for the right reasons. Funny is still funny, but you have to look at the intent'.
Despite the increased level of access to technology, Karl described live comedy as being much better than anything else.
'Being there is so important. Ask yourself why do stadiums sell out for gigs or matches? It's because people want to be there, it's a much better experience.
'There's something that only live comedy can give you. That's why I like judging these competitions, as you see the talent when it's raw and rough around the edges.
'Some say what they shouldn't say, but they can be strong still and these are baby steps'.
Karl said that he enjoys that those in Irish comedy today come from all different walks of life, from international backgrounds to the LGBT community.
'Comedians today, it's a mix of all ages from everywhere. Comedians today don't look the same, and if you saw us all in a café you'd look and ask why are they all together?
'But it's always good craic in the green room when we're together, we just spend our time slagging each other as the comedy scene is like that. But we're all about doing promotion for others as well'.
With plans to bring top class Irish talent to Wexford with Gorey Comedy Club this year, Karl is looking forward to making his mark in Wexford like he has in other clubs around the country.
'I want to build up regulars and get people who want to come back, as this puts pressure on me to provide new content every week. It makes you braver as comedian to you try new things and experiment'.
For updates on upcoming gigs, search 'Gorey Comedy Club' on Facebook.