When people think of Ireland, they think of the great sense of humour and fun nature of the Irish people. Famously, Irish humour is known all around the world for the dry and sarcastic wit from the Irish people.
Irish people have an incredible ability to make fun of themselves while also making others laugh. Irish humour in that sense is unique. It’s also known as “banter” and “having the craic”, something that every Irish person seems to learn from the moment they are born.
So it’s really no shock that some of the world’s best and most loved comedians come from Ireland.
A List of Some Irish Comedians
At the Moment, Irish comedy seems to be at the top of its game, thriving, not just in Ireland but around the globe. Here is a list of some of the most fascinating Irish comedians past and present.
Irish comedian Maeve Higgins always had aspirations of going over New York City to pursue her lifelong dreams of writing. As she reached 31, life in Ireland became more restricted in opportunities. So, she made the brave decision to finally head to the big apple on the back of her successful Irish TV show “Fancy Vittles”.
New York offered Maeve more than Ireland could. It was full of opportunities for her as a writer. The comedy scene in New York at the time was also thriving making it a great place for her to be.
While there, Meave started up a podcast to capture the adventures and life in her newfound home. She has written about her experiences in America in her book of Essays, “Maeve In America: Essays by a Girl from Somewhere Else”.
Initially, she didn’t want to do a podcast feeling that it was a typical thing most comedians do. Higgins wanted to do something different, deciding to make something more familiar to her.
“Meave in America” was born, a podcast focusing on the immigration experience in the U.S. Each episode included a personal story from people who had made the decision to leave their home to pursue a new life in the USA.
The podcast was successful due to Maeve’s ability to get the best from her guests and share their most touching stories.
Success at Home for Irish Comedian
Before all her success in America, Meave was born in Cobh in County Cork, known for her brilliant quick wit. She was first taken to the comedy stage in 2005 then deservedly became one of Ireland’s accomplished women.
Throughout Maeves’ career, she has performed in a variety of comedy festivals all around the globe. Appearing on the radio included Today FM where she made her debut show. Meave has also appeared in the nostalgic Irish Comedy Skit show ‘Naked Camera’. Furthermore, in 2009 she gifted us with her show ‘Meave Higgins’ Fancy Vittles’.
Currently, Meave still lives in New York, intertwining her life as a writer and comedian. You will also catch her hanging out with some Hollywood stars such as Amy Schumer. She is surely living the American dream.
Next is the brilliant Dave Allen who is known for his great storytelling skills and sharp humour. The Irish comic is often admired for his funny personal stories, usually told in front of a live audience. He is also famous for drinking whiskey on stage while telling anecdotes as he sits on a tall stool.
Dave Allen was born in Tallaght in Dublin on July 6, 1936. He made his first television debut on New Faces, a BBC talent show, in 1959. But ultimately obtain his fame in Australia in 1963. This was after he hosted the ‘Tonight with Dave Allen’ talk show on Australian TV. However, the show soon was banned on Australian TV a short six months later after making crude comments on a live show.
Despite this, the show helped him to win the Variety Club’s ITV Personality of the Year Award. Following the award, he signed a contract with BBC, making him the host of a variety of new shows. This is when his iconic solo joke telling and drinking whiskey routine became famous.
Audiences loved him for his ability to highlight important topics. He offered humour on relevant topics, but also back it up with his sharp intelligence that cut through to people. Which is a special trait that many Irish comedians seem to have.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, he toured many places performing his comedy show while also working on acting jobs. Sadly, he died on March 10, 2005, at the age of 68. He remains an unforgettable Irish comic of his time.
Next, on our list of Irish Comedians is Georoid Farrelly who quit his IT job to pursue his dream of stand-up comedy. Thankfully, the comedy road has worked out well for him taking the entertainment scene by storm.
In 2008, Gearoid Farrelly began to be noticed for his comedy routines when he was a finalist on the popular ‘So You Think You’re Funny?’ competition at the Edinburgh Festival. At the same time, he won the Bulmers Nuthin Butt Funny Newcomers competition in Dublin. This all made it clear to Gearoid that he made the right decision in pursuing his lifelong dream of working in comedy.
He is a brilliant live performer who often appears in comedy festivals around Ireland. At the moment, he is currently touring with comedy stars Neil Delamere in Ireland and Sarah Millican in the UK.
Following Farrelly, we have Tommy Tiernan who has been working in the entertainment industry for the last twenty-three years. His current job includes being a chat show host and writing for a newspaper. Tiernan is admired for his ability to take audiences through an emotional journey with his humour.
He’s not afraid to make a fool of himself to get laughter from the audience -at times silly and serious-. He often rebels against the normal view of the world in his comic routines.
Tiernan has an inherent way of putting words together and bringing stories to life. Throughout his comedy routines, Tommy often gives his thoughts on family life and religion. His quirkiness, honest humour, and great storytelling are just a few reasons why people love him.
Furthermore, you can also catch Tommy Tiernan in the hit Channel 4 comedy ‘Derry Girls‘ where he plays the character of ‘Da Gerry’. If you haven’t seen the show yet, you’re in for a real treat, definitely Irish comedy at its best.
Next on our list of Irish Comedians is PJ Gallagher who is Ireland’s cherished funny man. At the moment, he is co-hosting PJ & Damian In The Morning with Damian Farrelly on Classic Hits 4FM. You can also catch him in the hit Irish Television show ‘The Young Offenders’ on RTE and BBC.
Gallagher is hugely known for portraying a variety of hilarious characters on the popular Irish TV Show Naked Camera. In 2008, he went across to America to film a new series called Makin’ Jake about his alter ego Jake Stevens. Then in 2011, he introduced another brilliant sketch show, ‘Meet Your Neighbours’ which also went to DVD.
He has quickly become one of Ireland’s most recognised comics with his many television appearances.
If you don’t know the next Irish comedian then you definitely should. Aisling Bea is everything – she’s talented, laugh out loud funny, and very quick-witted.
Aisling was born and bred in rural County Kildare and she knew from a young age that she loved to perform to a crowd. Once she completed drama school, she spent years trying to get work into the theatre scene as a dramatic actress. However, she was cast in a comedy show in 2012. Through working on the comedy show, she decided to give stand up comedy a try.
It turned out to be a success for Aisling as in 2012 she won the ‘Glided Ballon So You Think You’re Funny’ award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Also, in 2013, she was nominated for the Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards for her show C’est La Bea.
These awards and nominations marked a turning point in her career. She began to appear as a regular guest on panel shows such as QI and Insert Name Here. In 2016, she started appearing in the hit Channel 4 show ‘8 out of 10 cats’. She also spends a third of her time out in Los Angeles, doing comedy gigs, writing, and auditioning.
You’ll be able to catch Aisling Bea in the new Netflix comedy ‘Living With Yourself’ opposite Comedy man Paul Rudd.
Cork Native, Mark Hayes has really made a name for himself, not just in Ireland but over in America. He has been described as one of Ireland’s craziest & wittiest comedians, and a great writer & poet.
Not only is he thriving in the comedy world, but he is also the author of three great books. His book RanDumb: The Adventures of an Irish Guy in LA’ was number one on Amazon Humour.
Mark also writes a weekly column for the Irish Examiner discussing his life in Los Angeles as an Irish man. However, that isn’t all. He has his own show “Luck of the Irish Night” at the Laughing Factory every Friday night. In LA, you’ll usually find him performing all around the place opening for comedian Chris D’Elia.
Mark is a man of many talents, also writing scripts and producing comedy sketches on YouTube. So, be sure to check out his comical work for a few laughs.
Next on our list of Irish Comedians is Waterford-born entertainer Hal Roach. He spent over 60 amazing years working within the entertainment industry. Before comedy, he specialised in magic and travelled with an illusionist performing at shows. As he grew older, he moved on to comedy and worked as a comedian in Jury’s Cabaret in Dublin.
His time as a residence comedian at the hotel earned him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest-running engagement of a comedian in the same venue. Incredibly, he worked there for 26 years.
Hal was often very popular with the Irish-American tourists visiting Ireland. A lot of his jokes and stories were influenced by stereotypical ideas of Ireland. During his time as a comedian, his live shows were released on Cassettes and CDs. Many English-speaking counties would play his CDs to passengers.
Besides comedy, he also wrote a variety of books aimed towards the Irish-American market which became popular. He is often acknowledged for helping to influence the new wave of Irish comedians and performers.
Edwin Sammon originally from Offaly has gained a lot of praise as a comedian over the last couple of years. Offering something different, he is often described as unpredictable and loves to please the crowd. His unique style has seen him be awarded the Tedfest Golden Toilet Duck award in 2011.
Winning the award has helped him to support other popular comedians, such as Jason Byrns and Phil Jupitus. He has performed at big comedy festivals around the country and across the water.
Edwin is pretty new to the comedy scene, starting his career off in 2011 at local comedy clubs. In recent years, he has gained much success such as getting a permanent role on RTEs sitcom ‘Bridget and Eamon’.
He is one to watch out for and we see great things happening in the comedy world with him.
The next Irish comedian to make it on our list is Navan man Dylan Moran, also known for his writing, acting, and filmmaking talents. Dylan is popular for his UK sitcom ‘Black Books’ which he co-wrote and acted in. Many people also know Dylan from his work with Simon Pegg in the popular films ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and ‘Run Fatboy Run.’
In 2008, he was one of two lead characters in the Irish black comedy titled ‘A Film with Me in it’. You will find him performing his stand up comedy routines at national and international festivals. In 2015, he took his recent stand-up show “Off The Hook” over to South Africa, he had three sold-out shows in the country’s National Arts Festival.
Next is the passionate female Irish comedian Tara Flynn who is one to watch in the next coming years. She is what we call a triple threat; a brilliant writer, a great actress, and a sharp comedian.
Flynn first got recognised for her stand up routines before becoming part of comedy panel shows, like Irish Pictorial Weekly. She has also written one brilliant comedy book being ‘You’re Grand: the Irishwoman’s Secret Guide to Life.’
While she does love to make people laugh, she uses her celebrity platform also for activism. She is often noted for her voice in campaigning for women’s rights and the repeal of Ireland’s eight amendments.
Make sure to check out her latest podcast ‘Taranoia: the Tara Flynn podcast’. In her podcast, she opens fears and insecurities making her very relatable.
Another female Irish comedian on our list is Eleanor Tiernan who left her civil engineering training to pursue stand up comedy. Just one year later, she made an appearance on RTE’s ‘The Liffey Laughs’ and BBC’s ‘One Night Stand.’
Although starting her comedy career in Ireland, she soon got recognised internationally. She was invited to perform at the Montreal Just For Laughs festival in Canada. This saw her gaining popularity with the Canadian and American audience.
Afterwards, she joined the team of RTE’s political satire show ‘Irish Pictorial Weekly’ which ran until 2016. While on the show, one of her comedy sketches went viral after it was mistaken for a real news report.
Eleanor has also taken part in other RTE comedy and sketch shows. Her strong stage presence and captivating storytelling have helped to make the audience love her.
We can’t have a guide to the most talented Irish comedians without mentioning everyone’s favourite man, Dara O’Briain. He is most famous for hosting the UK show ‘Mock of The Weeks’ as well as Blockbusters, Robot Wars, Dara and Eds Great Big Adventure, and so much more.
Dara first began his presenting career for Irish broadcaster RTE, hosting a children’s show while he was also making rounds on the Irish comedy scene, not long after he had finished studying at University College in Dublin. He became quite the star in Ireland after hosting the topical panel show ‘Don’t Feed the Gondolas.
In spit of that, he did leave the show in its fifth season to pursue comedy festivals in Adelaide and Melbourne. Shortly later, he co-founded the production company ‘Happy Endings,’ one of its most famous shows in Ireland being ‘The Panel’. The show quickly became very popular and was nominated for ‘Best Entertainment Show’ at the Irish Film and Television awards.
Dara O’Briain got his big UK break in 2003 when he hosted the BBC programme ‘The Live Floor Show’. He was also a guest and a guest host on the much loved ‘Have I Got News For You’ quiz show. That made him move over to the UK full time to continue to pursue the British comedy circuit.
Dara is one of the most sought-after Irish comedian hosts in Britain and Ireland and you’ll always find him touring very regular. If you can, you must check out Dara O’Briain live. This talented Irish comedian will make you cry laughing.
Lastly on our list of some of the best Irish comedians is funny man Des Bishop. He is one of the most loved Irish comics ever. Des Bishop first appeared on the Irish comedy scene in the early 1990s.
What many people may not know is that he moved over to Ireland at 14 years old from the United States. When he came to Ireland, he started observing and creating comic narratives of the Irish. This is believed to have helped influence his material and shape his stand-up routines later on.
Who is your favourite Irish comedian? Is it someone on our list or someone we haven’t mentioned? Please share with us in the comments below.
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