Deirdre O’Kane - Comedian brings ‘A Line of O’Kane’ to Tallaght

By Hayden Moore

From getting nominated for an IFTA on six occasions to playing Edinburgh Festival Fringe to finishing runner-up on Dancing with the Stars, there is nothing Deirdre O’Kane has not done in her illustrious career.

The Drogheda native recently returned to stand-up after a short hiatus to voice-over Gogglebox, produce a massive charity comedy gig in aid of Comic Relief, dance her socks off on Dancing with the Stars and star in hit sitcom ‘Younger’.

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Deirdre O’Kane performs at the Civic

Deirdre caught up with The Echo recently while on a train journey in-between gigs for her new show ‘A Line of O’Kane’ to fill us in on her recent trip to Gaza, turning 50, and what audiences can expect when she comes to The Civic Theatre on May 25.

You recently made a trip to Gaza, what was that like?

It was an amazing experience, but in these tragic circumstances because there are families over there that can’t get in to see each other. It was nice seeing where all of that comic relief money was going and it is very important to be on the ground there to see first hand how these 5000 children where being treated for malnutrition and other diseases – it was very gratifying to see that work being done.

How much money have you raised now through the Comic Relief gigs?

We’ve actually raised over €600,000, which truly is amazing to raise in just three years but the goal is to get a TV crew in to broadcast it on the television to try make even more money for those in need.

Throwing it right back to the beginning, can you remember your first gig?

Every comic remembers their first gig. The first gig, every comic has heart failure because you’re out there on stage for the first time and you just don’t know how you’re going to get on. To be honest, the first two years on stage you have heart failure every time you’re on stage – it’s brutal. It’s sort of like being the best man at a wedding, everybody wants you to do well but if you don’t, they couldn’t care less, they’ll just keep on talking.

Did you know that you had a knack for comedy or did it take awhile to really feel comfortable doing it?

It’s not like I was dying on stage every night though, I was doing well but if I had been dying then I would have packed it in. It was just the fear of dying on stage that I had to get over and it wasn’t until I did my first Edinburgh festival that I really felt comfortable up there because you have to. You’re up there on stage every night for nearly four weeks.

That must have been exhausting was it?

Well no, sure I was a young one, you just jump up on stage every night and you’re grand – I wasn’t getting up to do the school run every morning like I am now.

Obviously since then you’ve had this remarkable career that has allowed you to play all over the world but did you have a moment at all when you felt, ‘hang on a minute this isn’t for me’?

Well I’ve stopped loads of times. I must be one of the only comics who has made an absolute hames of my career and still managed to get back into stand-up. Every time an acting job came up that I liked, I’d get distracted and go away to do that and then I had young children as well. I’m really enjoying it now and it’s just because my writing has gotten much better.

Who inspired you the most growing up?

I didn’t really have a role model per say because there were no other female comics but I did come from a funny house. My mam was just hilarious, she would be saying these outrageous things and wouldn’t even know what she’s saying. Joan Rivers would have been around then but I wouldn’t have seen her, she wasn’t on the telly and I didn’t have access to YouTube like they do today. When I went to the Cat Laughs festival in Kilkenny would have been the first time I saw a female comic, and then I was like ‘right I could do this’ but it was primarily poverty that pushed me into it.

Obviously, you had a big birthday last year, if you could go back in time and give teenage you one piece of advice what would you say?

I’d just ask, is there anything else you like? Do you have to do this, there must be something else you like? I say that from a good place though because this is more something that I had to do to make money. It’s probably not the best career option but when you think of it more that way rather than a vocation, then you have to be good – but you can’t get to the point where it is a career unless you work very hard at it.

How long would you prepare for a show and would many jokes end up on the cutting room floor?

I wouldn’t write it in under seven months and I’d probably write for about four hours a day, and of course loads do. You write a joke and you go try it, it doesn’t work so you try it again and again. Actually, one time I had this 20-minute joke that I really liked but it just wasn’t working, audiences didn’t really find it funny. But I got it in, except it ended up being about two minutes.

What can people expect from your show in The Civic on May 25?

I talk a bit about my time on Dancing with the Stars, turning 50, having kids and all that but don’t let that throw you off. If you haven’t seen Dancing with the Stars it does not matter, you don’t need to watch it – it’s kind of like the inside story and about the madness that is reality television.

Of course, turning 50 is a huge milstone, did you have a moment then?

I had a very strong moment; on the morning of my birthday I couldn’t get out of bed. My birthday was the morning of the final and I was thinking ‘jesus what am I doing, I’m more than the combined age of the other two finalists’, Jake Carter and Anna Geary. But I was literally jumping through the air on my 50th birthday, which was nice.

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