On June 15th, comedian Jarlath Regan will record the 300th episode of his cult favourite podcast Irish Man Abroad. So far in the long-running series, Jarlath has interviewed a host of well-known characters including Bob Geldof, Sharon Horgan, Hozier, Brian O'Driscoll, Chris O'Dowd, Boy George, Dara O’Briain, Gabriel Byrne and Dylan Moran to discuss their experience of Irish-ness, both at home and abroad.
In the run-up to the big event, which will take place in London's Southbank in aid of The London Irish Centre charity, we asked the funnyman to reflect on his many, many chats.
How will you be celebrating your 300th episode?
I’ve teamed up with a charity very dear to my heart and central to the show itself, the London Irish Centre Charity, to gather together a bunch of previous guests for one big gala event in London. It’s part of this Underbelly Southbank festival that I love.
I can’t reveal all the guests but Aisling Bea, Laura Whitmore, and Roisín Conatty are just three of the legends who will be there on the night. All the money raised goes directly to the centre and the work it does to help vulnerable or at-risk Irish people in London.
Since you began the show in 2013, podcasting has boomed in Ireland - has the process changed for you since episode 1?
Heaps in some ways and not all in others. The same amount of research goes into each episode. Brian Connolly has always polished and fine tooth combed each episode to make it sound great. The biggest change is the thought that goes into which guests we should have on next, what issues should the podcast cover or address and then, of course, there’s the constant never-ending search for and scheduling conversations with those guests.
You have become a pro interviewer over the years - what techniques have you come across that help to open an interviewee up?
Haha! Thanks for saying that. I’m honestly just trying the best I can to listen at all times. I also try to study other people that interview. That’s how I pick up fresh ideas, approaches, and questions that people like answering.
Books on the subject are helpful but only to a point. I try to learn from those that are actually doing it like Terry Gross on NPR - she is the master for me. The luxury of time the format offers you can also make it hard to direct the conversation into areas I want to go so I am forever trying to find better ways of doing that without it being a clunky gear change.
Who is left on your guest wish list?
So, so many it’s overwhelming. The list is growing at all times, to be honest. As long as Ireland continues to conquer the world in all areas of expertise, there will be new people to speak to on Irishman Abroad. Add to that the number of people that haven’t spoken about their life and work but have reached a point where they are now willing to do so, and I have a lot of letters and emails to send.
Fontaines DC are a band I’d love to talk to. Someday Roy Keane will do the show - I hope. Daniel Day-Lewis, Mary Robinson, Sinead Gleeson, Simon Zebo, Paloma Faith…I could keep going.
Who would you like to be interviewed by? Do you have any role models when it comes to that particular skill set?
Ali G, Borat, Dennis Pennis, Zig & Zag, Dustin, Triumph the insult comedy dog or Zach Galifianakis would be amazing experiences. I love them all so so much.
Do you have a favourite chat so far?
Really hard to pick one but Tom Vaughan Lawlor was a really emotional and special one that I loved. Sir Bob Geldof was exactly what you’d expect and I loved that one. In truth, I have good memories of all the episodes.
What are your favourite podcasts to listen to?
Fresh Air from NPR. Really great range of subjects, guests and contributors talking about things in a very relaxing considered way. That’s my all time favourite.
What's next for Irish Man Abroad?
Well, the show has been extended into two new series. An Irishman Behind Bars and Men Behaving Better were launched in September. Now I’m about to launch a new series about returning home about the stories of people who have done it, are doing it and are trying to do it. I’ve been working on a tv version of the show for some time and I think that’s where I’d most like it to go next. Maybe someone in RTÉ will read this!
Will you be playing any comedy festivals this Summer? What can we look forward to?
Yes. I’ll be back for the Vodafone Festival, Galway Arts Festival and I’ll be doing bunch of ones over here in England too including one called The Lost Village. Apparently, it’s really hard to get to.
Mostly I’m working on my new standup show Notions Eleven which will come to Vicar Street in the new year and be filmed in London in the autumn.
I’m also working on a new book, a redevelopment of the existing Irishman Abroad App and I’m trying to build a miniature village in my back garden because my 8-year-old son thinks it would be "so cool". Secretly that’s the thing I’m most excited about but I can never tell him that.