From improv TV shows and online videos, Tara Flynn is happy to keep her career on a diverse track writes Colette Sheridan
COMEDIENNE, actor and writer Tara Flynn, hates being asked about the difficulties for women in comedy. Kinsale-born Flynn, who will read from her book, You’re Grand: The Irish Woman’s Guide to Life, at a special ‘Lightning Bug’ event in support of Yes Equality Cork, says comediennes are heckled differently.
“We definitely get more heckles about our physical appearance, from men, usually. But, ultimately, it’s a level playing field. You have to prove yourself quite quickly. If you do a good heckle put-down, as a female comedian, then everyone is on your side. It’s patronising, but that’s how it works in your favour.”
One of the writers and performers on RTÉ’s Irish Pictorial Weekly, Flynn no longer does stand-up. She prefers improvisational comedy, which she performs at Dublin Comedy Improv, at the International Bar. She also voices a character in the newly released children’s animation film, Two by Two, which is a take on Noah’s Ark.
Flynn, who made waves with her satirical video, ‘The Racist B&B’, in response to racism against her African-American husband when he was in Kinsale, is more than happy to take her career in different directions.
“I’m either writing or doing comedy or, if I’m lucky enough, I’m doing acting jobs. I don’t want to pigeon-hole myself. I like to diversify.”
The 2008 economic crash was tough for actors. Flynn was was living in London at the time. “Hollywood A- listers were working on the West End stage, West End actors were doing fringe work, and no-name people like myself, who normally did fringe work, weren’t even getting seen.
“If you weren’t generating your own work, it was very easy to get swallowed up. People got very low. I became low myself, but I just decided to come out fighting. I didn’t know if I could turn to improv and writing. I just had to give it a go and learn through trial-and-error.”
Flynn is working on her second book of humour, which is about Irish people’s attitude to complaining. She will be reading extracts from it at the Everyman. “We’re bad at complaining in restaurants, but we’re great at moaning to the high heavens and not really taking action. I’m looking at what fun there is to be had from that subject.”
Having started her comedic career with The Nualas, improvisation is Flynn’s favourite form. “I’d love if it was like in the US, where people can make careers from improvising. I’d love if improv was taken seriously here, but it’s seen as a sort of parlour game or a poor cousin of stand-up. In the US, it’s prized. A lot of very famous comic actors come from an improv background, such as Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Jim Carey and Steve Carell.”
Flynn says entertainment industry people in the US go to improv nights to see what talent is on offer.
“Here, improv comedians have been performing in the International Bar for 22 years and we still go to Kilkenny every year for the Cat Laughs,” Flynn says.
Clearly a performer with many strings to her bow, Flynn continues to make satirical videos, including one entitled ‘Making things (like your mind) up about SSM’, on SoundCloud, in support of Yes Equality. The piece had 5,000 hits just two days after being released.“I’m straight, so the referendum doesn’t affect me, but I think it would be awful if I wasn’t allowed to do something because of my sexuality. My cause is equality.”
The Lightning Bug literary night, in support of Yes Equality, is at the Everyman in Cork on Monday. As well as Flynn, the line-up includes writers Danielle McLaughlin, Sara Baume and Billy O’Callaghan. www.facebook.com/lightningbugpress
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved