In 1988 three students Barry Murphy, Kevin Gildea and Ardal O'Hanlon formed the comedy act Mr Trellis and also established the Comedy Cellar upstairs in the International Bar in Dublin.
Reporter Keelin Shanley visits the Comedy Cellar to find out how the stand-up comedy scene has developed since then. She watches performances by comedians Barry Murphy, Dara Ó Briain and Karl McDermott.
Kevin Gildea talks about setting up the Comedy Cellar saying
For the first say year, two years, it was a really exciting time as we were going into uncharted territory.
Barry Murphy believes that unlike the cut-throat London comedy scene, the Comedy Cellar has fostered a uniquely Irish form of comedy that is quirkier and more relaxed than the British counterpart. However, with one or two exceptions the comedians have all gone to London to make their living. Murphy says
You can draw an analogy between Irish comedy and Irish football in that you have to go to England to play for Ireland and there is very little interest in cultivating the talent here.
Many comedians feel comedy is not given sufficient support in Ireland, it is not recognised as an art-form by the Arts Council and few promoters are interested in putting on big comedy gigs. Until there is a bigger interest and until bigger venues are operating in Ireland, Irish comics will continue to go to Britain.
This episode of ‘Black Box’ was first broadcast on 11 December 1995. The reporter is Keelin Shanley.