Interview: Rarely Asked Questions – Grainne Maguire

Grainne Maguire has had a good year. She made headlines tweeting about her menstrual cycle to the Irish Taoiseach and was invited to appear on Question Time. She has also appeared on The Daily Politics, Stewart Lee's Alternative Comedy Experience and Radio 4's Now Show and has made a name for herself penning gags for Dead Ringers, News Quiz and Newsjack. She returns to the Fringe this year with a new show, Great People Making Great Choices, and is at the Pleasance Courtyard from August 3 - 29. Tickets and info here.

Picture by Idil Sukan

1. What is the last thing you do before you go onstage (apart from check your flies and/or check your knickers aren't sticking out of your skirt and check for spinach between your teeth)?

I always do a safety wee before I go onstage because my greatest fear is to suddenly decide I’m desperate for the toilet in the middle of my set. It’s not like I can just pop out for 5mins, the audience will notice.  Then I do a little dance to try to shake off nervous energy and tell myself stupid reassuring things like, the audience are going to be so happy to see you! When they see you on stage, it’ll be like Mr March suddenly returning home from the war at the end of Little Women, that’s how happy they’re going to be. Then a quick prayer to Michael Jackson and I’m ready to go.

2. What irritates you?

When Irish people get called British in the media, any jokes at all about Ed Miliband and people who claim not to know who Kim Kardashian is.

3. What is the most dangerous thing you have ever done?

I grew up in the country, so when we missed the bus to school, my mam used to make us hitchhike a lift into town. Even though we hated it and were terrified. Granted it was at about 8.15 in the morning so all the rapists and kidnappers were probably still in bed but still. When I think of me and my sister, both in our early teens, in our school uniform, being forced to flag down truck drivers, so we wouldn’t miss double German, it reminds me, the nineties in Ireland was a different world

4. What is the most stupid thing you have ever done?
Once during an improv workshop, it was me and four others sitting on four stools. The teacher said, OK Grainne, you’re driving. And I immediately swapped seats with the person sitting behind me explaining, “I can’t drive”. I said that out loud. I’d like to say that it was a silly joke, but that wouldn’t be true. For a split second I forgot it was just four stools in a room above a pub and thought it was a real car. I had gone full method/ insane. And I said it out loud.

5. What has surprised you the most during your career in comedy?

How importance confidence is.  I thought comedians were supposed to be the scrappy insecure under dogs slowly unravelling with self-doubt.  I thought if you seemed to confident people would find it off putting. Nobody likes over confident people, after all. I thought the agreed position on them was that they were annoying show offs and needed to be taken down a peg or two. 

Doing comedy I realised people love confident people.  People worship anyone who seems to know what they’re doing. Untrammelled certainty in one’s owns ability, unfettered by self-doubt, is a bit old thumbs up in comedy game. If anything it covers up a multitude of sins.

Interview continues here.

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