Perhaps best known for his roles in RTÉ's Hardy Bucks and Republic of Telly, Kevin McGarhern has led a varied career.

From humble beginnings at open mic nights across to Dublin to starring in Padraig Conaty's No Party for Billy Burns and travelling America with his docu-series Weird America, this comedian has done it all. 

We caught up with the funny man as he prepares to play the famous Cat Laughs Comedy Festival.

How did you get your start in comedy?
I did animation in college. I was always interested in doing funny stories but after college, I got a job in the International bar - the hub of Dublin comedy - and I thought, 'I think I can do this' [stand up]. So I gave it a shot and then I branched off into acting.

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Did you get to play the International at the time?
No, because you had to be half good to get into the Inter so you sort of had to cut your teeth in the clubs that don't charge any money in - open mics basically.

The Ha'penny Bridge Inn, I think, is where I did my first gigs and they have a 'Rubber Duck Award' so every night they give it out and I got three Rubber Ducks so like... I was very proud.

You've worked in TV & film as well as doing stand-up - what's the end goal?
I don't know because I like both. I've always been kind of obsessed with film but at the same time I love funny people, I love doing gigs, I love hanging out backstage with the funniest people in the room - it's a lot of fun.

Some other areas of the arts can be quite lonely whereas comedy, you're just hanging out with some very witty people. I'm kind of torn between them, I love both of them and I'd love to continue doing both.

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You're heading to Kilkenny Cat Laughs this June, is that a major social weekend for comedians?
Oh yeah, the Cat Laughs is fantastic - it's like a little summer camp that comedians go on every year.

It's a beautiful town, Kilkenny, and there are loads of historical sights and castles and, usually, we've been blessed with the weather so there's more to do outside of comedy.

What I love about it is that it's great for getting a lot of international acts so some of your favourite comedians that you thought you'd never see in Ireland, get offered a gig. It's a great opportunity to see international acts and see new people that you've never heard of before.

There's an annual football match at the festival, will you be taking part?
No, I've never played in it. I think the last time I played football was in college and I think I gave myself a hernia so I just have never had any interest in sport. I've always hated it although, Karl Spain is the greatest football commentator since Jimmy Magee.

Karl can be quite catty. If they ever bring Project Runway to Ireland, Karl would be the ideal guest host - he is unbelievable.

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Yourself and Karl were travelling around China recently - do you get to tour internationally often?
Yeah, I mean Karl's been everywhere and I was with him in Dubai and China and it's definitely... I mean, first of all, you get to travel for free and see these amazing countries.

You get to get out of your comfort zone because when you're doing too many gigs in Ireland, you tend to get too parochial so it's a good thing to get out and get surrounded by people from all over the world. It's good training.

Your new tour is called The Boxty Monologues - talk me through the title.
Well, the title.... the title came from my friends. I could not think of a title for the show and I was trying loads of different things. My friend Padraig [Conaty], who actually directed the film No Party For Billy Burns, said, 'you should just call it the Boxty Monologues because you never shut up about boxty'.

Boxty is this weird little potato cake that you only kind of get... it's really popular in the Midlands but it's only recently been brought to Dublin so I've been buying it every week - I'm going to give myself a heart attack.

So the show is going to be me with support, using characters and songs and embarrassing stories from childhood.

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Sounds like a kind of free therapy?
Oh my God, it's therapy where you actually get paid - it's brilliant. You just go out and shout into strangers faces and they give you money.

Which brings me to something you said about acting, you said there wasn't much of a difference between comedy and tragedy?
I think in a lot of cases, the difference between tragedy and comedy is your distance from it. If you see somebody tripping and falling about two hundred yards away, it's the funniest thing in the world. If you're right beside them, you're a lot closer and it's horrible to watch.

With the film No Party For Billy Burns, we tried to get both of those in. I think it's quite tragic but funny at the same time.They're kind of our favourite type of films.

Tragic humour seems to be a strong theme in Irish film - In Bruges, Intermission, I Went Down, Adam and Paul...
Yeah, we've got a good history of laughing in the face of death.

And on that note - Kevin McGahern is bringing The Boxty Monologues to Whelan's on Wednesday, May 30th before he travels to the Kilkenny Cat Laughs Festival on May 31st - tickets are on sale now!