With comedy festivals and stand-up gigs canceled for the foreseeable future, comedian Jarlath Regan has decided to release his first standup special, Notions Eleven, online for fans to stream and download instead. We caught up with the funny man to find out how comedy is surviving in 2020.
As all interviews in 2020 must start - how have you been getting on in lockdown?
I think we all swing from "Oh God, the world is on fire!" to "This too shall pass". Sometimes I forget what's happening and then you’ll hear your child say something children shouldn’t say like, "Daddy can the World Health Organisation survive without US funding?" And I’m right back in it.
Comedians have been particularly creative with their careers as of late with online gigs and Patreon-supported podcasts. What has it been like for you? How is the comedy scene holding up?
No two ways about it, live comedy is in a coma. Lots of comics, clubs, promoters and creators won’t wake up from it. I can’t speak for everyone in the scene, but I know there is major despair and thundering, over-leaping ambition, creativity and optimism from which comedy was first born.
It’s a mad job. Might as well come up with a mad way to keep it! I’ve come up with a few things including my online comedy club, new podcasts and, as you say, turning to people and offering them more great content in return for a small monthly fee.
It seems that we relied quite heavily on creative content during lockdown to keep us entertained. Do you think the government is supporting the arts enough now?
There are lots of things that need life support and the arts will always be a lower priority for any government. My fear is that it stops being a priority at all. The writing, the songs, the comedy, the plays that emerge from this will be what we remember and how we come to terms with all of this loss. That doesn’t happen without those creators being able to feed themselves. Places like Patreon have let the public step in where the government hasn’t.
You filmed your first stand-up special, Notions Eleven, in Vicar Street. How does it feel to have hit such an exciting milestone in the time of COVID?
Bittersweet. This show would have toured, gone to Edinburgh, around Ireland, had a stint in The Soho Theatre and who knows what else, but that’s all gone. Putting it out as a standup special is the alternative to all of that and it is exciting. Don’t get me wrong. I’m massively proud of it. I just really hope people will see it, laugh for an hour and get away from the distress that surrounds right now.
In your last show, Organ Freeman, we heard the story of how you donated a kidney to your brother. What can fans expect from Notions Eleven?
It's definitely a lot more craic. There's a lot of ground covered from Greta Thunberg to Brexit, Epstein to the correct way to make trifle, the difference between an eejit and a gobshite and the answer to the question, "Why are Irish men more attractive when they go abroad?"
The stand up special led to some changes for your podcast, Irishman Abroad, how did that decision come about?
Yes, we opened up the doors to our archives via Patreon.com/IrishmanAbroad this week to give people completely unrestricted access to the hundreds of previously unavailable interviews, bonus series, extra content, and the monthly online comedy club I mentioned earlier.
It’s a big change and a small change in that people will still get an episode for free each Sunday but to hear everything and to get it all they have to take two minutes to sign up over on our page. I’ve spent seven years pouring my heart into the podcast and I want to keep doing it.
This was about trying to keep it going, make it bigger in a sustainable way and people seem to love the new way.
Congrats on seven years of the podcast! What's next for the show now that you've made the move?
We have two new spin-off series, one called Irishman In America with Marion McKeone. It’s a weekly update on what’s happening in the Presidential fistfight. The other, I can’t reveal just yet but I can say it features an Irish sporting icon. They’re both Patreon exclusives so to get them you need to sign up.
What's next for you in 2020?
Like everyone, I have to wait and see.