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'I try not to be defined by being Irish - it's just one thing about me': Maeve Higgins talks life and career in New York

Just before Covid-19's grip on New York became apparent, Siobhán Brett met up with comedian Maeve Higgins in Manhattan. The Cork native, who has since temporarily returned to Ireland, talked about her love of the life less ordinary in the Big Apple, the hypocrisy of Trump's immigration policy and her long battle with self-doubt

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Maeve Higgins Picture by Mindy Tucker

Maeve Higgins Picture by Mindy Tucker

Comedian Maeve Higgins is in the middle of writing another book. Photo: Mindy Tucker

Comedian Maeve Higgins is in the middle of writing another book. Photo: Mindy Tucker

Maeve Higgins has been in New York for 6 years. Photo: Mindy Tucker

Maeve Higgins has been in New York for 6 years. Photo: Mindy Tucker

Power couple: Higgins with former Irish President Mary Robinson, with whom she co-hosted the climate change podcast Mothers of Invention

Power couple: Higgins with former Irish President Mary Robinson, with whom she co-hosted the climate change podcast Mothers of Invention

Screen-time: Maeve as driving instructor Rose (with co-star Barry Ward) in Extra Ordinary

Screen-time: Maeve as driving instructor Rose (with co-star Barry Ward) in Extra Ordinary

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Maeve Higgins Picture by Mindy Tucker

My meeting with Maeve Higgins took place 47 years ago, which is to say it happened on February 25 2020. The setting was the rooftop of a Midtown Manhattan hotel (remember hotels?) plastered with awkward décor and presided over by anxious "servers" who told us the table needed to be given back in an hour.

It was a rainy afternoon in the middle of a regular working week. Higgins - author, comedian, columnist, actor and podcast host - was preparing to leave town for Austin, Texas, and then Los Angeles, to promote the US launch of her new movie, meaning she wouldn't be at her weekly comedy showcase in Brooklyn, Butterboy, the following Monday.

I had planned on attending, and we jokingly lamented that we were to be deprived the kind of multi-situational magazine profile style where the interviewer follows the subject around for a prolonged period of time. "A few weeks later, sitting in her kitchen ..." I began, "... she was still eating crisps," Higgins finished the sentence in mock bewilderment, and we laughed.