When it comes to funny girls, from Maureen Potter to Emily Ashmore, Ireland clearly has more than its fair share.
As with all evolutions, there are those along the way who have opened doors, kicked in windows, and generally made it easier for others to follow.
And when it comes to comedy in Ireland, they don’t come much more kick-window than Sue Collins.
Having formed The Nualas back in 1879 – give or take a decade – Collins has been quietly creating comedy chaos for many, many years. Her latest creation, The Dirt Birds, sees Collins and Sinead Culbert tap into the blogosphere, and giving it all the ridicule and roasting it deserves.
Having returned to The Whale with The Nualas last October, as part of their Grand Slam tour, and with two sold-out January shows with The Dirt Birds, we managed to get the ever-busy Collins to sit still for 20 minutes, to let us know where all this sublime silliness stems from…
I went to a drama college called The Dublin School of Acting on North Frederick St. in the early nineties. It was a bit Mickey Mouse – we called it The Dublin School of Motoring.
Tutors told me I was funny but I was never the class clown or anything. I was dating an actor at the time and he brought me to The Comedy Cellar in The International Bar one Wednesday evening. I didn’t know it existed and I had no idea there was an alternative comedy scene in Dublin. It was a magical night. The comedians were brilliant – Mr. Trellis, Dylan Moran, Dermot Carmody, Paul Tylak. I instantly fell in love with comedy.
I joined the Dublin Comedy Improv and shortly after that, I met comedians Tara Flynn and Anne Gildea, and The Nualas were born, in 1995. We had a lot of success in Ireland and the UK after sell-out runs at The Edinburgh festival. It was a great time, touring all over the world. After seven years, we took a break for a decade!
Family came along, and I also wanted to do some solo work. We reformed in 2010, and I had no idea we would still be touring after 8 years, but here we are!
The Royle Family I always wanted to write a great sitcom. I love traditional joke-based TV shows like Everybody loves Raymond, Seinfeld and Modern Family. The Royle Family was also a huge favourite.
Peter Kay One of my favourite comics; I could watch him for hours. Perfect observational comedy, which is hard, but he makes it look effortless.
Sarah Millican Sarah is great, simple as…
French And Saunders French and Saunders inspired me as two super-successful women in a fairly male dominated arena!
Withnail And I Yep, I’ve seen it about twenty times – the funniest film of all time (especially if you’re an actor!).
Fawlty Towers I could watch this over and over again. Amazing writing and character comedy; I’m a a huge fan of John Cleese.
Bill Bailey The Nualas were on in the same venue as Bill Bailey in the late nineties in Edinburgh, amd he was just so unique in terms of musical comedy. Total genius.
Johnny Vegas He’s just mad, and one of the nicest, funniest blokes on the planet.
Chelsea Handler A massive influence on me, she’s brilliant. Any time I want to give up I think of her… a tour de force.
The Dirt Birds hit The Whale regularly. So, you know, watch this space.