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03rd Apr 2014

JOE meets stand-up comedian and podcast phenomenon Jarlath Regan

JOE's Eric Lalor meets stand-up comedian and the brains behind one of the best podcasts out there, Jarlath Regan ahead of his brand new show in the Laughter Lounge Dublin on April 6.

Eric Lalor

JOE’s Eric Lalor meets stand-up comedian and the brains behind one of the best podcasts out there,  Jarlath Regan ahead of his brand new show in the Laughter Lounge Dublin on April 6.

JOE: Hello there Jarlath! You are coming to the Laughter Lounge on April 6th with your new show, Here For A Good Time, Not A Long Time. What’s it all about then?

Jarlath: I’ll be honest with you, it’s two guests comedians in the first half, then me doing an hour of my newest stuff in the second. What kind of stuff is it? It’s me trying to make sense of everything that’s happening in the world right now and obviously finding the humour in the whole thing. If people have seen me before, they’ll know what to expect. If people haven’t,  it’s stories, jokes, visual bits and pieces that aren’t overly aggressive in their nature, but more designed to make you spit out your drink laughing. It’ll be a good night out.


JOE: You did your last solo show in the Laughter Lounge and are back there again. Any particular reason?

Jarlath: Well it’s the best comedy venue in Dublin in my opinion. If people haven’t been before this is a good time to go. Now that I live in London, I don’t really come back at all to do the club circuit. I feel that when you go to London, you either do it or you don’t. That is, you have to commit to the venture.

So, for that reason, I want to make the one gig I do in Dublin to be a big night out, which is why I am putting on the show. The last time I did the Laughter Lounge solo show was just before I left to go to London and I really enjoyed it so I thought I’d head back there. And they do have excellent cocktails for a very low price. And who doesn’t like cocktails?!

JOE: We hear ya!

Jarlath: I feel there’s a big change in me in that I was terrified of leaving Ireland, but coming back now realising there’s nothing scary about London at all.

JOE: So do you think the move to London has made you overall a better comedian?

Jarlath: That’s for other people to say. I’ve worked harder than I’ve ever worked, I gig every single night of the week now whereas in Ireland, you can only gig so much without running into the same people again. In London you can gig every night and never bump into the same person twice. There are 70 million people here in the UK so there are plenty of opportunities to try out new stuff and go to different places with your material.

I would love people to come along and see the new stuff because it is ALL new. There’ll be a few surprises on the night as well that I won’t divulge here obviously, but the tickets are only 13.50 which is half the price of a normal Laughter Lounge ticket. So you can come along and get yourself a couple of cocktails and hopefully more than one support act on the night. It’ll be a great night out.

JOE: Sounds like a lot of fun. OK, you made your name as a stand-up, but now you are being credited as the brains behind one of the best and most successful podcasts around, An Irishman Abroad. It has been a massive success and congratulations to you and all those behind it. What made you decide to do it? What was your inspiration?


Jarlath: About four years ago I spoke to Ray Foley, Ger Gilroy and anybody I knew in radio about making my own radio show. I spoke to a few radio stations who liked the concept who agreed it could work, but there was no money, ergo no way of doing it. I guess for the last ten years or so I’ve wanted my own talk show and when I was in college I used to invite big name guests to the campus and I’d interview them in front of the students or they would make a speech and then I’d interview them.

JOE: So you were always comfortable being the interviewer?

Jarlath: Yeah, absolutely and it became obvious that radio couldn’t support it. I tried all the usual routes and it’s unfortunate, I suppose, that there are a lot of people in the same situation with good ideas and lots of motivation and energy. So when I moved to England I realised that I travel a lot and I’m always listening to podcasts non-stop, probably about 20 hours a week.

I moved to London on the very day that the lads from Second Captains left Newstalk and I thought they had made a mistake, they had blown it. A couple of months pass and they start this new podcast which becomes bigger than their radio show! That was the final piece of convincing that I needed.

Second Captains 30/8/2013

JOE: So that was the wake-up call? You didn’t need a radio show.

Jarlath: Exactly. This is more powerful than radio. I still had all those e-mail addresses from the people I interviewed back in college and from doing stand-up, you know how it is, you meet people who know people who know people etc. The first one was really obvious, it was Graham Linehan.

I wanted to ask him about the feeling of being a fish out of water and still being intimidated about being abroad. The chat I had with him genuinely helped me through a really difficult period. I just asked him all the questions on behalf of anyone doing what I was doing. He’s an icon, an icon of Irish comedy and he is an example of what you can do when you emigrate and don’t have fear. People listened back to that chat which was done very much on a shoestring budget. We actually did it over Skype from his home in Coventry, but when we put it up online and I found a producer, Brian Connolly, who made it sound nice, we took our time and put it up.

When it did go out it was during the Edinburgh Festival and it exploded and was popular immediately. I had never had a ‘hit’ before, but everyone was listening to it and giving great feedback. People were asking when the next one was and The Irish Times started plugging it. All of a sudden the listenership was soaring and pretty much within two weeks, we knew we had to keep going and making more podcasts.

JOE: And it’s just snowballed from there. All the lads in JOE are massive fans of the podcast and they’ve all got their favourite episodes. For instance, conflicted interests aside, they loved the interview with Fla (Jerry Flannery). Do you yourself have any particular favourite episodes?


Jarlath: I think that every episode I’ve done has taught me a really important lesson about favourites and favouritism in that, if you walk in and see someone like Dylan Moran and say to yourself ‘Oh my God, it’s Dylan Moran, the reason I started stand-up comedy, this is going to be awesome!’, you can often miss what’s in front of you, while it’s different when you’re interviewing Jerry Flannery, who is a man I didn’t know an awful lot about but has an amazing story to tell.

I learned from the first five episodes to walk in with an open mind and as a result I don’t feel like I have a favourite. There are qualities and entertainment from the stories and the answers each one has told that make me proud of each one. I definitely have episodes that were more difficult than others where I had to work a lot harder. If you pushed me, I’d say I thought the Paul Kimmage interview was a pretty special one because he’s a journalist I’ve always looked up to and who has been through a lot of bad times.

Whatever your opinion of him is, he is a warrior and a battler. Tom Vaughan-Lawlor’s description of leaving Ireland still gets me when I listen to it now. He’s a hero.

JOE: And now everyone wants to talk to Paul Kimmage!

Jarlath: Yeah, Paul Kimmage (pic below) and Michael Smiley were great in that there was a voice recorder between us, but listening to them just opening their hearts gave me chills up the spine.

Paul Kimmage 12/2/2013

JOE: Credit where it’s due though Jar, the success of the interviews is also largely down to your relaxed demeanour and the questions you ask and I think what comes across with each guest is that they feel comfortable and, as you just mentioned, they are more likely to open up. Is that a deliberate technique or just something you’ve picked up over the years?

Jarlath: I think it’s something a lot of people forget when they become journalists. Personally, I think we all forget that we have a degree in interviewing. Every Irish person who drinks pints knows how to listen and how to draw someone out on something that they are interested in. We are conversation experts. You and I could go for pints from 1pm to 1am and we would just talk and never feel like this is getting boring. We can do it.

JOE: The conversation might get a little slurred though…

Jarlath: Ha! True, but I felt when listening to other interviews and podcasts it was immediately obvious that this was the way to go. We had a huge advantage over others as it’s rare you hear an interview go on for an hour and a half or so. I felt Irish people were uniquely positioned to do those interviews. Don’t get me wrong though, I am amazing! Hahahaha!

JOE: Oh. of course. It goes without saying…

Jarlath: (Laughs) It should be noted that that was a joke! But in all seriousness, I think it’s important not to go into the interview with a list of must ask questions and ticking them off as they are answered. It’s much better just to have the ability to listen. I think one of the most crucial skills of any stand-up comedian is the ability to listen. Not joke writing, not public speaking, not physical performance, it’s listening.

What are the audience saying? Why are they quiet now? Why are they laughing that way? Do I have them? You can hear it all. There is so much information that an audience tells you, even when they are heckling you and telling you to get off! We’ve got a unique training there as comics which is why I think a lot of comics have very successful podcasts.

JOE: So the plan is to keep going forward and making more episodes? Is there a wishlist?

Ireland Training Session

Jarlath: There are a few that people aren’t going to see coming. That’s what I love about it and also there’s the opportunity to broaden it from successful Irish emigrants to people abroad with Irish roots. People sometimes ask me what I’m going to do when I run out of guests. There are over eight million Irish people currently living outside of Ireland so if I get to eight million episodes, I’ll be a happy man.

Having said that though, if Colin Farrell is reading this or hears the podcasts, tell him I think he’s another warrior and perhaps Martin O’Neill or Brendan Rodgers as well. If I’m completely honest Roy Keane (pic above) would be the jewel in the crown. If you get Roy and you get him on a day that he’s willing to talk… but then again, I feel if you do get him to sit down and talk there’s no denying that he’s not fond of the media, so let’s be honest, why would he do it?

He’s had some bad experiences when he has sat down to do these one-on-one interviews, invariably it has come back to bit him on the arse. I think maybe, when he is fully retired, we could do something.

JOE: That’s great Jarlath, thanks for chatting to us.

Jarlath: My pleasure.

Jarlath Regan brings his brand new one man show ‘Here For A Good Time, Not A Long Time’ to the Laughter Lounge on April 6th and you can get tickets here.

His hugely successful podcast, An Irishman Abroad, is available on iTunes.

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