Tommy Tiernan, Deirdre O'Kane, Blindboy Boatclub, Jason Byrne, Neil Delamere and David O'Doherty are just some of the big names performing at this year's Vodafone Comedy Festival, taking place in Dublin's Iveagh Gardens from Thursday, 26th to Sunday, 29th of July.

We sat down with comedians Joanne McNally and Alison Spittle to shine a light on the up and comers, the international acts and the must-see events of the four-day festival.

"I gig a lot with Duane Doogan and Fiona Frawley in Cherry Comedy and they're really good, it's a great night and I'm a big fan of Fiona. I feel like she's a mini-me so it's complete narcissism," said Joanne.

As for Alison?

"Julie Jay, she supported me on my tour last year so I'm biased, I think she's amazing. Emma Doran, [...] Martin Angolo, I'm really looking forward to seeing him, and Conor O'Toole who is my boy, and Ruth Hunter," she listed.

While Ireland is jam-packed with festivals this Summer, Vodafone generally stands out thanks to its international line-up. When it comes to the Americans, Alison says that Neil Hamburger is the man to see.

"He's this kind of mad, mad, character act. I saw him a few years ago in Ireland and all of the comedians were busting their holes and a lot of the audience were quite angry so that's how good he is," she explained.

When it comes to networking, the two agree that working the festival scene is a great way to meet - and possibly befriend - the international acts.

"I just want to make *Nicole Byer be my friend and I'm going to use this festival to make her be my friend," confirmed Alison.

"That's what we use the festival for - schmoozing," agreed Joanne. "It is kind of cool to meet other club comics from other countries and stuff," she continued.

Another highlight of the event? The promoters do their homework before creating a line-up to ensure a diverse mix of comedic voices.

"I think there are about three shows with all women on it, or all women and one male MC - and they're not even mentioning that because we're so progressive," laughed Alison.

"They also do free shows where they represent different comedy clubs and they can put forward who they think are up and coming in Irish comedy too," she added.

Although there are far more women than ever on the comedy scene in Ireland today, Joanne insists that female acts should be given time to grow and not thrown onto the main stage just because of their gender.

"I worry sometimes that because people are so excited by female comics at the moment - and rightly so because we've been starved of them - that they [won't be given] a chance to learn their craft. They don't pop out like Amy Schumer," she explained.

While we had the two performers, we had to ask about their upcoming moves to London. Is it still the case that to be a success in Ireland you must be a success in England?

"You don't have to leave Ireland to be a success, you can be a success in Ireland - 100%," said Joanne. "I'm leaving because there are way more opportunities in London, that's just the way it is; there are way more clubs, way more channels, there are way more pitches for sketch shows - it's just where it's happening," she explained.

Although the two undoubtedly have a bright future ahead of them in England, there are a few home comforts that they will miss...

"I'm going to miss the audiences because of all of the cultural references that you have built up because you've lived here for so long," Alison explained.

Joanne agreed: "English people don't know what a hot knacker is and it's one of my favourite things to talk about".


*Unfortunately, Nicole Byer has had to cancel her performances at the Vodafone Comedy Festival.

Tickets for the Vodafone Comedy Festival are on sale now.