Performing made me happier than I thought you were allowed to be.
I always loved telling jokes but until I was 25, I was pretty sure I’d be working in an office for the rest of my life. I started out working for a brilliant little design company called XMI. My job was to deal with the clients but my heart wasn’t in it. It was my girlfriend and now wife who made me give stand-up a proper go when I got let go. As soon as it became my main thing, I realised that I had been pretty depressed in my old way of life.
When I started out I didn’t really know why I was doing it. Nobody does. All I knew was I was in love with it. The high you get off it when it goes well is better than anything you can imagine.
Terrifying is too small of a word for the vomit-inducing awfulness of those first few shows. I mean it’s as bad as you can imagine. Picture yourself about to walk into a room filled with all the people who ever said they didn’t like you. Now take off all your clothes from the waist down and picture yourself walking into that room. That little shudder you just did, that’s the feeling in the beginning — constantly.
I think I was a pretty determined little lad growing up. Taught myself to do things. Decided I was doing something and then made it my business to see it through. Spent a lot of time drawing — and I guess I thought I’d do something with art but my CAO form got messed up and I wound up going to regular college.
I studied politics and philosophy at UCD. I spent my time running around the campus doing everything that was not the course I signed up to do. It was where I realised that stand-ing up in front of people and making them laugh was a thing I could do. I did a post-grad and I also met my wife there. So I can’t complain.
My earliest memory of being on stage is playing Joseph in Joseph And The Technicolor Dream Coat when I was nine. No footage or photographs were taken of this event— that was the way of the 80s. So we can only imagine how adorable that performance must have been.
Having a balanced life is a constant struggle. I have no routine. I get booked one place one week and then three others the next. I travel thousands of miles for work and then have to turn in my podcast at the end of each week. I try to bring my family with me when possible. The thing that I virtually never get to do is hang out with friends or go for pints.
There was never any example of anyone in my family or around my family who had gone into the entertainment business. But my father didn’t come from a horse racing background and that’s what he made his mission in life.
In some ways I’m disciplined, in others, not. As in I will get the work done, I will push for more, I will work until midnight most days. And then I’ll see cake! And we all know what’s going to happen next.
The trait I most admire in others is open-mindedness. I can’t abide people who are shut off from new ideas, ways of life, places, things, people, experiences, discussion. Having an open mind is kind of the key to not being a dick, in my opinion.
Someone asked me what’s my least favourite sound recently. I’d say that and my biggest fear tie in together. My least favourite sound is the sound you hear when a child falls and they slap themselves off the ground. That is my biggest fear. Hearing that sound and the aftermath.
I’m an owl, not a lark, but not by choice. Most of my work happens late at night. I’d love if I could get my gigs done by lunchtime. It’s never going to happen though is it?
I try to believe in life after death. In the same way you try to believe all people are inherently good. All the evidence points in another direction but you can’t live life any other way.
So far life has taught me that whatever you’re going through, someone else has been there. It’s up to you what you do with that information. I think a lot of the time we have the answers to our struggles and that’s the thing that makes it really hard. We know what we have to do.
Jarlath will be performing in the Vodafone Comedy Tent at Body&Soul June 19-21. Each week on his podcast ‘An Irishman Abroad’ he’s joined by well known Irish people who have moved abroad http: //anirishmanabroad.podbean.com
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