Rory O’Connor, aka Rory’s Stories, is part of a new wave of Irish and international comedians – including Conor Moore, The 2 Johnnies and Giz a Laugh’s Enya Martin – who have used the power of the internet to carve tidy careers.
O’Connor’s madcap social media videos (and his two spin-off Rory’s Stories guidebooks) originally lampooned stock characters from the world of GAA, like the mad mother on the side-line, the free-taker in love with himself and the super sub.
He’s branched out to parody broader facets of Irish life like the workplace, parenting and coupledom, which have helped him build up a nationwide following since launching his Facebook page in 2014, which has the guts of 500,000 followers.
“It’s just a platform,” says O’Connor.
“I did a [theatre] tour at the start of the year and it sold out pretty much all the venues. We’re doing another one now [in the autumn] and hopefully it will be the same. I’m just very lucky that I have hundreds of thousands of people at my fingertips.
“Traditionally if you want to come into stand-up comedy you’d have to go into your small comedy clubs on a Tuesday night, do 10 minutes in front of absolute random-ers.
“Whether they laughed or didn’t laugh is 50-50. I’ve nothing but respect for people who grinded that out for 15 years in order to get into a place like Vicar St.
O’Connor admits he might have only ever been to see two comedians live in his lifetime.
Now he’s about to do a sell-out show in Vicar St, Ireland’s most-vaunted live comedy venue. With the fast-tracking route to success comes the downside of having to handle trolling and online abuse.
“I find Twitter is a terrible place for abuse,” he says.
📢Tickets now on sale @RoyalCastlebar are proud to announce Rory O'Connor of @RorysStories will bring his new show "What's The Story Rory?" Tour to Castlebar on Friday Oct 18th Tickets On-sale here - https://t.co/M2yd7Mf9yB #castlebar #comedy #wildatlanticway #rorysstories #gaa pic.twitter.com/VxNwHZnBjH— The Royal Theatre (@RoyalCastlebar) September 8, 2019
“No matter what I say or do you’re always going to get abused.
"The higher your profile, the more abuse you’re going to get. It’s just the world we live in.
"I remember about a year ago myself and Enya Martin made a video1 based on a man coming home from work and he’s faced by his wife.
“The skit we were trying to do, I see it with my own mam and dad, who are happily married for 30-40 years.
“About two days after we posted it, I got back to a hotel in Lahinch – after visiting the Cliffs of Moher – and I had a few missed calls.
"I turned on my Twitter and I’d never seen that level of abuse in my life. It was horrible. Some of them were saying, ‘Rory’s Stories is an ambassador for domestic violence.’
“It showed me how vicious social media can be and how people can take up simple sketches wrong.”
O’Connor, 32, has been a prominent spokesperson for mental health. It’s personal with him – his 23-year-old first cousin took his life when O’Connor was a teenager, and O’Connor has battled with gambling addiction.
A focus on his burgeoning comedy career has been a salvation.
“I remember myself and cousins of my generation made a pact: ‘No matter what happens lads, we speak up.’ Gambling for me was a big trigger,” he says.
“I realised that back in 2013. I met with Gerry Cooney from the Rutland Centre. He said you need to find something to replace your itch for bets, and that’s where Rory’s Stories came from. It’s been a fairy tale story.”
Rory’s Stories is on a nationwide tour, including Vicar St, Dublin, 7.30pm, Saturday, Sept 14.