Monday 20 November 2017

'Bridezilla' and the art of making people laugh

Liadan Hynes

Liadan Hynes

MAEVE Higgins made her comedy debut on national radio, throwing herself in at the deep end, which took the form of a nationwide competition on the Ray D'Arcy Show . Having what she describes herself as "not a clue", this, sadly, did not lead directly to a successful career in comedy.

"Initially there was a competition on Today FM looking for new stand-ups, so that was the very first time I tried it out," says the 25-year-old, who has since given up the day job in a clothes shop, and now occupies a weekly slot on the Ray D'Arcy Show .

"That was February two years ago. I mean, I didn't win it or anything, I was terrible actually, because I didn't have a clue what I was doing. I was just listening to the radio at home and, I dunno, it must have been on the back of my mind anyway to try it some time. So I was like, f**k it I'll try it, on the radio, and that was pretty bad."

Going back for a second attempt, she took to the stage of the Halfpenny Bridge pub in Dublin. After a nationwide debut, this time she told only one friend.

"When I started again a few months later, I told one guy that I live with, because I just wanted someone to come with me, but I didn't tell anyone else for ages and ages.

"I can't remember the first, say, 10 gigs or so. I just remember black, I couldn't look at the audience or anything, I'd be really panicky. I'd just look at the wall behind them, and not even wait to see if anyone was laughing or anything. I'm much calmer now."

The former photography student who claims she still can't take a photograph says that growing up she wasn't necessarily the obvious choice to be a future performer.

"My family weren't really surprised, but I dunno about other people, I wasn't gregarious or outgoing in school. A lot of comedians I know weren't either."

Six months after the original competition, Jenny Kelly, the producer of the Ray D'Arcy show , came to see Maeve do five minutes in the International Bar.

"She had kind of stayed in touch with me, and I liked the show so she came and saw me and asked if I'd come and do stuff on a regular basis."

A television career was to follow, when the producer of Naked Camera , the Candid Camera -type show on RTE, heard her on Today FM.

"I think they were kind of stuck for people," she says, laughing. .

"They rang me, and said do you have any ideas, and I said, 'I'm really busy at the moment, I'm in the shop.' "So I took a half day and went and did some stuff with them, I did stuff as a traffic warden that first day. I wasn't sure about the hidden camera show, I thought they might be really mean - guess what, your house is burnt down, your children are dead, isn't that hilarious? It obviously wasn't like that. I wanted to do a desperate girl, because I think that's a really funny stereotype, so I kind of wanted to do a caricature of that."

The show shows Maeve, in full wedding dress, accosting men on the street.

"Obviously, it's only men that I go up to and it's pretty universally fear," she says of their reaction to her character 'Bridezilla'.

Maeve is now working on the development of her own style: "Now I try to set aside time for writing, and try and think of stuff."

Maeve Higgins will be performing at the Cat Laughs festival in Kilkenny, June 1-5. Tel: (056) 776-3837. 'Naked Camera Live' will be performing at Vicar Street, Dublin, June 23 and July 21

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