Comedian Joe Rooney – Interview


Comedian Joe Rooney takes time out of his hectic schedule to talk about his career, his comedy icons, and what we can expect to see next from him.

The interview below was originally published in Griffiti Magazine issue 39.

How did you get started in the comedy business?

I was in a band for a few years. We released a few singles and then broke up but it gave me a taste for performing on stage so myself and my friend Paul Tylak started doing sketches together. Our first gig was in a club that Gavin Friday ran on the quays called Screaming Blue Jaysus Club. I got a great adrenaline rush from doing comedy. Later I decided to do stand up and that was a difficult switch to make because I wasn’t comfortable being myself onstage. Now I love it and really feel relaxed onstage but it took me ages to get to that level. However I would hate to be just a stand up and am always trying to get a new comedy acting role. Playing different characters is what drew me to comedy at first. I used to shoot a lot of comedy videos at home with friends playing different characters.

Who were your influences and which current comedians are you following?

When I was a kid I loved Groucho and Harpo Marx and still do. Then the early Steve Martin films and his stand up, Richard Pryor , The Simpsons, Father Ted, The Office and Ricky Gervais especially the podcast with Karl Pilkington. Of late the best stand-up I’ve seen have been Jason Byrne and Paul Sinha.

I remember seeing you on The Den how was that experience, and what advice would you have for those looking to get work in the media?

I did that for one summer. It was quite exciting at first but I found it difficult in the begining working in a big corporation like RTE where it’s hard to do things just off the cuff. For example, If you want to wear a wig then a person from make up has to be on stand by. I wasn’t used to this and found it stifled creativity. I was also shocked at the lack of enthusiasm among the general work force in RTE. It doesn’t feel like creative environment.

You are probably best known for your performances in Father Ted and Killinaskully. What was it like to work on those shows and how has it impacted your career?

I really enjoyed working on Father Ted. The atmosphere on set was lovely. I was just looking at some footage I shot while I was working on the show and it was amazing how all the actors and crew got on so well. There were no divas as far as I could see. I didn’t realise at the time that I would be recognised on the street for playing a small character in one episode and I certainly didn’t think I’d be still getting recognised 15 years later.


Killinaskully was a great experience for me because I got to act alongside alot of great actors over a 5 year period. I also got to write in the last two series so over the experience was invaluable. I still get a lot kids looking for autographs from my character Timmy especially down the country.

What’s your take on the Irish comedy scene, any rising stars?

The live scene in Ireland is thriving and there seems to be tons of people doing stand up. Now that the recession has kicked in there’s bound to be some new stars who would have otherwise been doctors or estate agents.

What can we look forward to seeing from you next?

I am working on a submission to Storyland with a life coach character called Batty Ryan. I am going to take the live show to Edinburgh Fringe Festival next year and doing some gigs in Switzerland early next year.

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