Name: Ger Staunton
Lives: Dublin (from Castlebar)
Depending on who I have to meet, I’d normally get up at 9am and work on contacting venues about upcoming shows and meeting up with lads online to script-write. The first thing I’ll do every morning is I’ll stick on comedy on my TV or computer monitor and have it on in the background all day.
I do a lot of distanced meetings with guys either in the corner of a café or online. I’m working on five or six different projects at the moment like pitches for TV and scripts for shows. I’ll try and give an hour or two to writing new material as well.
At the moment I’m watching a lot of Dave Chappelle. I also like Dylan Moran, Tommy Tiernan and Stuart Lee. I basically like anyone who isn’t trying too hard on the stage. I also might stick on people that I don’t know or that I don’t necessarily like. There’s a reason they’re doing it on a big stage in front of so many people so there’s something to be learned from everybody, whether it’s your style or not.
Everyone has their own way of writing. When I come up with an idea and I write it into my phone, I don’t know if that idea has legs until I try it out at an open mic. If there’s a spark to it, I’ll bring it home and throw it up on my whiteboard. You may have an idea in your notebook that you might think may be funny, but you don’t know unless you try it out on stage.
My last live show was March 11 in Whelan’s just a few days before they brought in the social distancing. I do miss it, just the process of working stuff out. This time I would’ve been over at the Edinburgh Fringe and would’ve had to have a new hour written for the show since then. What helps you write the shows is being on stage, and we’ve had zero stage time since March 11.
Out of all the different cogs in the wheel of comedy, the writing is my favourite part. The joy you get from performing live is the reassurance that the things you wrote on your laptop in your apartment all those weeks ago actually worked. I’m a bit of nerd when it comes to the wording of jokes, what order you say them in, the tempo and when you land the punchline. Putting it all on paper makes you see if you’re using too many words or if you’re dancing around the punchline for too long.
It was about six or seven years ago when I got into comedy. My girlfriend at the time booked me a gig because I think she was fed up of me telling jokes around the house and her being my only audience. I was making comedy notes for ten years leading up to that and thinking I’d never do it. I just kept making them and thought that maybe a friend of mine will do comedy and I’ll just hand them the notes. I said, “I’ll do it once, and if nothing bad happens me I’ll do it again.” Luckily enough I’ve kept going and it’s ‘so far so good’.
When I’m in Ireland I’ll travel everywhere for gigs, even for a five-minute spot. I was supposed to be in London in March when lockdown hit. I’m supposed to be there in February next year so hopefully that will work out.
I’ve been involved with running the monthly Castlebar Comedy Club in the Bridge Street pub for over two years with Declan Swift, who I was in school with. Even before he built the pub, he said he’d want some comedy and entertainment, so we had it in the back of our heads that if everything was going well for a year, we’d give it a go. We didn’t want it to be just an open mic, we wanted it to be as good as any club in Ireland and get the best acts from Ireland and England.
It’s going great. We never had to sell a ticket on the door yet. I always host it which is a great opportunity to come up with new material and try out new things. Everyone who’s interested in comedy has probably heard all my jokes before, so I have to come up with a new ten or 12 minutes every time I host it. We’re hoping to be back before the end of the year.
I also edit videos and I edit for live sport, so I’d be in the stadium playing back replays and making edits that go out live. Because I’m freelance, it’s the kind of thing you can do while doing something else like comedy. Before this I was a teacher in Castlebar. Even though it was a great job and I loved every part of it, it does anchor you to it for the days that you’re there.
I always followed the Irish football team growing up, I never really followed an English team. I started following a team in Belgium and have set up a supporters’ club in Bruges with a few friends and my brother. It’s always been great craic and we’ve been treated really well because they can’t believe that there’s a supporters’ club for this team in Ireland.
Following Ireland around is just a really nice way to enjoy football. You’re having a few beers in a nice city and then you’re going watching a match with your friends. So much stuff would happen on those trips that I turned it into stories for my comedy. There’s always a bit of mischief.
In coversation with Edwin McGreal
If money was no object, what would you do all day?
Write comedy and work on projects. Same as now, just in a nicer apartment.
Tell us something about yourself we don’t know?
I can draw Donald Duck in under 10 seconds.
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten?
Air freshener thinking it was a sweet.
Where’s your favourite place in the world?
A fire-seat in a pub.
What makes you angry?
People who do that really long blink while making a point.
Name three things that are always in your fridge?
Two Guinness and a Duvel.
What makes you nervous?
Shane Duffy playing it around the back four.
Favourite TV show?
I haven’t watched much TV since I was a kid, but I love the bit on the news when the camera cuts back to the presenter just that little bit too early.
Most famous person you’ve met?
Joe Duffy once asked me if my tea from the RTÉ canteen was too cold. I said “I’ll know who to complain to if it is.” He didn’t laugh one bit. And I beat Bob Geldof at Fuzbal (not in the RTÉ canteen).
What do you miss most about being a kid?
Spending up to a week with nothing in your pockets.
What’s your most prized possession?
The drum kit my brothers helped me buy when I was 10.
Best advice you ever got?
The craic is a bargain, whatever the cost.
Describe yourself in three words?
A bit tired.
How do you unwind?
A stand-up DVD with a smoky whiskey.