Last year Ger Staunton performed a sold out gig in Mayo.
Now he’s returning fresh from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to his hometown Castlebar. He will performing a solo show special on September 8 at 8pm in the Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar.
For the last 15 years the Mayo man has had it in his head that he wanted to give stand-up a go, but as we can all imagine it’s a terrifying thought to actually go ahead with it. Finally, he plucked up the courage at The House Presents event in Annesley House in Dublin. As if it wasn’t hard enough he followed an author who was reading an extract from his own book about his wife who had passed away from cancer. So he has the job of turning the crowd around. He talked with The Mayo News about his experience.
“I had never really got nervous like that before in my life … I literally walked up on stage to the sound of my own footsteps and people crying, so it was an interesting start,” he tells the The Mayo News. “But I got through it, and amazingly people laughed and said ‘you should do another one’, so I did.
“At the end of the gig, I said to my girlfriend at the time, ‘I think that went ok?’ And she replied: ‘Well, at least they stopped crying’.
It was that same ex-girlfriend whom Ger credits for introducing him to the comedy scene. “She got fed up of me being a smart arse to her and couldn’t take it at all, so she went out, booked me a gig, and said, ‘Go out and annoy other people and not me’,” he laughs.
Now Ger is after performing at the world renowned 25-day Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
He chats to the Mayo News about his homecoming gig.
“I’ll have a lot of new material, and there will be more of an arc to the show, rather than doing a ‘best of, here’s all my jokes one after the other’,” he says. “It’s more of a show with a start, middle and end, and I am really happy with it … I’ve been doing bits of it here in Edinburgh every night, making tweaks as I go along with the Castlebar show in mind, so it should be fun.”
The 38 year old is the first to admit that a career in stand-up comedy is not something he had ever envisioned in his younger days.
“I never considered myself funny,” he says, candidly. “I was always quiet, in the back of the class or in the pub amongst other people … every now and then I would say a funny comment that people would laugh at.
“But I used to write down all the funny stuff that I thought of, thinking that some day I might do a sketch or pitch it to some TV company for a sitcom. I never thought I would end up doing stand-up, but when I did, I had loads of thoughts written down … I had so much funny stuff accumulated over the years.”
Ger describes his style as ‘conversational’. “There isn’t a huge amount of pressure to laugh, and there isn’t any audience interaction, so I am not going to ask a couple whether or not they met on tinder.
“It’s kind of storytelling and an atmosphere like, ‘Listen, go to the bar and grab yourself a pint and I’ll get one myself and we’ll chill out for the next 45 minutes.”
“You are going into rooms where you might be out the back of a pub with a load of drunk people and it is like doing the interval at the darts,” he laughs. “You are trying to sell your jokes and nobody is listening.
“You have got your seven or ten minutes to try and impress them for your life, really, and you can’t always expect everybody to get you or to care about what you have to say.
“They can be difficult rooms, but you have to do them. And I am still doing them. I am not above any gig at the moment.
“But I am willing to do it. It is a graft, and you could be doing worse things than literally standing on stage, telling funny stories to people about things that happened to you…. And now they pay! So it is not that bad.”
Thankfully, however, his career is now really taking off. The Irish Examiner labelled him ‘incredibly funny’, while The International Comedy Club, Dublin, said: ‘One of the best comedy writers in Ireland. An absolute stand out’.
It sounds like pretty soon Ger Staunton will be able to wave those drunks at the back of the pub goodbye forever. Or perhaps they’ll be turned into material for his show, and he’ll have the last laugh.
For tickets (€14/€12 each), contact the Linenhall Arts Centre on 094 902 3733 or visit www.thelinenhall.com.