Karl Spain has been a stalwart of the Irish stand-up comedy for over twenty years, best known to TV viewers for losing a few ounces on Celebrity Operation Transformation, and his popular series Karl Spain Wants A Woman, as well as being a live regular at Kilkenny Cat Laughs, Galway Comedy Festival, Vodafone Comedy Festival, Edinburgh Fringe and numerous other events.

On Friday 22nd January, Karl is hosting the Comedy KARLnival Online with comics Andrew Maxwell, Milton Jones & Sinéad Quinlan, presented via Zoom - more info here.

We asked Mr. Spain for his choice cultural picks...

FILM

The last film I saw that I really enjoyed was The Town. It's directed by and starring Ben Affleck - but the actor who steals the film is Jeremy Renner. It's about a gang of bank robbers in Boston and is apparently based on a true story. The supporting cast is really great, too - the late Pete Postlethwaite and Chris Cooper, to name but two. It's a reminder of how movies used to be made. A good script, well made. More of those, please.

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MUSIC

Music-wise, I've been making a few playlists to listen to. It's not like back in the late nineties when I used to make mixtapes and CDs - now you have the choice of all music, and a playlist can be more than ninety minutes. My mixtapes used to have lots of little extras, like lines of weird dialogue from a TV show or movie. The albums that I've been revisiting a bit too much during lockdown are Steve McQueen by Prefab Sprout and Grace by Jeff Buckley - as you can see, I'm very up to the minute. The Smiths and The Clash too; all four have albums that I had to replace because I played them too much...

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BOOK

I've only started reading it - Kevin Barry's Night Boat To Tangier. It was a very thoughtful Christmas present from someone who knows me well - me. I buy myself a present every Christmas Eve, and that's what I got myself this year. The next book I have lined up after that is The Stranger Times by C K McDonnell, which is getting five-star reviews everywhere. 

PLAY

I do love a good play. I've gone to them regularly. In Limerick, there's a really good group of talented actors, and in the before times it was always a good night out. At the Edinburgh Festival, you'd see some incredible stuff. I've a half-written play if anyone's interested. Anyone?

TV

One of the things I did during the first lockdown was re-watch all the series of Curb your Enthusiasm. It's such a well written, well-made show - just perfect. I've also found some old series like Rumpole of the Bailey and watched them, too. The Queen's Gambit is brilliant. I watch too much television; I get told that.

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GIG

Well Friday the 22nd of January I'm doing a zoom gig with Andrew Maxwell, Milton Jones and Sinead Quinlan, the Comedy Karlnival online. The Zoom gig is the closest we can get to the real thing at the moment. It is nights like this that make me so glad I'm a comedian - Maxwell and Milton are two of my absolute favourites to watch in my twenty years in the business. Sinead Quinlan was a very exciting discovery - late in 2019, she won the Ray D'Arcy Show comedy competition and she was on The Den with Ray and Zig and Zag and now has her own show, Seriously, Sinéad? She's a great talent with a very bright present and future.

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ART

One of the great things about my job is the travel. In 2019, I was in Bilbao and got to see the Guggenheim. The building is pretty impressive in itself. We went to San Sebastian on a day trip, and there was an exhibition there that was basically warnings from the future about our past, and that was just brilliant. Some were so simple but really stayed with me. 

RADIO/PODCASTS

I love Sean Moncrieff's show on the radio it's always worth listening to, and Dermot and Dave are brilliant - you can tell that they are really enjoying themselves and it's great to listen in. With podcasts, I mainly listen to football podcasts mainly - there are loads of them. As a comedian I should have had a podcast by now. I can't promise I never will. But not yet.

TECH

I'm not really an app user as such. I do little bits of social media but not much, half an hour here and there, YouTube would be the most used app on my iPad or the newspaper apps.

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THE NEXT BIG THING

I do hope it's live performance. I never realised how much I'd miss it. I hope it's the roaring twenties again, as long as it's not followed by a great depression and the rise again of fascism. Let's hope we've learned something from the past...

Karl Spain hosts the Comedy KARLnival Online with comics Andrew Maxwell, Milton Jones & Sinéad Quinlan on Friday 22nd January at 8 pm, presented via Zoom - more info here.