Bernard Casey talks comedy, creativity and the future
In this week's interview, Fergus Dennehy talks to South Kerry's very own Bernard Casey about his hopes for the future, his love of the creative process and how, despite the millions of views he's gathered through his videos, he still likes to keep as grounded as he can
For Portmagee's Bernard Casey, the signs were certainly there from the very beginning that a career in comedy and on-stage performing was something that he would excel at - I mean, winning an All-Ireland Variety Show title at 16 years old in what was essentially your first ever leading role, is as sure a sign as any that this this is something that this was something that needed to be pursued.
An award winning comedian that has garnered millions of views for his online videos, including his particularly brilliant GAA stereotypes video and his more recent sketch in which he mimics the voice of the Irish Rail intercom announcement (seriously, check it out at his 'Bernard Casey Comedy' Facebook page), the man from South Kerry admits that he is still learning the ropes of his craft and even with all of this online success, he insists that he lives firmly with his head on his shoulders and his feet planted firmly on the ground.
Now, while the prospect of even getting near a stage is a daunting one for the rest of mere mortals, thankfully for the comedy scene here in Ireland, this was not the case with Bernard and after taking up the mantle of both writer and director for the youth club in the years that followed the All-Ireland win, he jokingly admits that he's very much a jack of all trades and master of none.
"I caught the performing bug right then and there [with the All-Ireland win] and that's definitely where the love of the stage came from for me - we continued to do the youth club plays for the for following three years after our win and even after I left the club, for the next three to four years, I was involved with the writing, directing and organising of the performances," he said, talking to The Kerryman this week.
"Between that and watching sketch comedy and Father Ted and Fawlty Towers and stand up comedians such as Dylan Moran - I constantly found myself writing and learning and striving to get better," he continued.
Even with this new found passion for performing, Bernard openly admits that it took a years enrollment in the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin and a lot of courage to leave his full-time work and pursue his comedy dream full time - a step that he bravely took back in 2015 and by all accounts, it's been so far so good for the boy from the sleepy fishing village as he's been kept very busy, throwing himself head first into the deep end of the comedy world.
"When I finished my time at the Gaiety School of Acting two years ago, I just said to myself - 'you know what, I'm going to try it, what have you got to lose and sure if nothing else, it'll be a bit of craic anyway' and so I just went for it full speed ahead and between the stand up comedy, drama classes, video production, script writing, advertisements, stage acting - I've been doing anything and everything that I can get my hands on the past two years."
"At the Gaiety, you learn a lot about stage presence, your delivery, your timing, your rhythm of speech and really, you're just constantly gaining confidence as you perform as different type of characters and different types of scripts; you begin to love the variety and it gives you great confidence and variety to keep going and keep doing what you love."
Not one to rest on his laurels too much, Bernard is certainly going hell for leather to see his comedy dreams succeed, mixing his always improving stand up comedy routines these past two years with work with Brianoval Productions, a place where he can help to channel his creative juices even further.
"Stand up comedy has been my mainstay for the past two years - I perform in 'Mike the Pies' in Listowel once a month, the Róisín Dubh in Galway, anywhere in Dublin, the Coco Club in Cork; at the moment I'm working primarily with Brianoval Productions and I work alongside him on video production, script writing, directing short films, anything from corporate to the downright silly, we'll be involved with it!"
"The success with the online videos has helped in such a way that it does get my name out there and more people do come to the shows but by no means are they crawling out of the woodwork or coming out of the forests to see me; I have had people come up to me though after my shows and say that they really like this sketch or that they really enjoyed that video or that performance."
"You do what I do for fun and the creativity involved, but obviously it is nice when people come up and tell you that they like your work and it does motivate you to keep going and keep creating."
"I've been lucky enough to open for acts such as Ardal O' Hanlon, Jason Byrne and Aprés Match over the past few years and it really does give you great confidence; I'd have been a small bit shy at the beginning seeing these people up close and personal and when I started out, I would have done a lot of work with Karl Spain and he was a very good mentor to me almost, he'd give me little tips and tricks and things that I could improve on - so yeah, the big names out there, I've always found them incredibly friendly and welcoming to me."
With two years of comedy under his belt, is this something that Bernard can see himself continuing on long term and if so, what does he see as the future holding for him?
"Well, look, laughter is a drug for me, it's addictive; I love the whole creative process behind everything - creating an original idea and following the formula to its frution. There's a buzz in it for me that I absolutely love."
"The future is always going to be a mystery you know, I very much try to live in the present - I'm always kind of thinking about my next gig and the next one and the next one - what do I want to improve on and all that; what I'd love to do and what we're working on at the moment is this series of short mini comedy videos that is based loosely around politics in rural Ireland - it's a dark comedy almost so that's something that I'm very excited about coming down the line."
"Realistically though for my future, I'd love to work in the area of comedy scriptwriting, voice work and stand up comedy;"I love acting now, I really do, comedy acting especially, basically just anything to do with comedy, I'd be interested in it - I'd actually really love to dome work on the cartoon sode of things as I love doing impressions and voices and all that so look, I'll my head on my shoulders and my feet on the ground we'll be okay hopefully," he finished.
For anyone who is interested in seeing Bernard perform live or who just want to watch any of his online videos, then you should follow his Facebook page entitled 'Bernard Casey Comedy' or you can find out more about him on his website at www.bernardcasey.com
For parents interested in getting their children into drama aswell, Bernard will be running a three-day drama camp in the Caherciveen Community Centre next week from Monday April 10 to Wednesday April 12 inclusive - contact him for details.
The future may be a mystery but for Bernard Casey, it's certainly a bright one.