- 25 May 20
No. 15 in a series. Interview: Shamim Malekmian
Sinéad Walsh used to get a bus from Dublin to Cork, every week, to host an open mic. She didn't mind the journey: belly laughs awaited her in Cork.
Once in the city, she'd run to the pub Roundy, where the CoCo Comedy Club used to host its open mics on Monday nights. Soon, young, wary stand-ups would approach her one by one. Sinéad would write their names down on a piece of paper. She’d then run downstairs to distribute flyers, and running back up again to light the candles. It was a labour of love, inside the healthy heart of a snug comedy scene – and she loved it.
A queer woman with an array of colourful experiences that make for a chirpy stand-up routine, Sinéad has spent the lockdown rediscovering the world. Her show, performed with fellow comic Ailish McCarthy is entitled WingWoman. It was slated to run at the Glasgow Comedy Festival in March, but – inevitably – this was cancelled. The show would have marked the comedian's first festival run. That said, the lockdown can be a time for much-needed revaluation, Sinéad tells Hot Press.
Did your life change after the lockdown?
I suppose at the beginning, I thought it was a great opportunity to write and do those kinds of things, but it's mentally challenging even to do that. My show with Ailish was cancelled: we were supposed to go to Brighton with it in May, and I was going to be over in the UK for a few gigs. We were also meant to be in Edinburgh Fringe in August. But I think it made me revaluate my life. It made me realise that I was fitting my life around comedy, and now that is not the case anymore, I feel a big void. Not to be depressed about it (laughs).
How did you cope with the cancellations?
I'm very fortunate in the sense that I still have my day-job, and I'm working from home. I know a lot of comedians were relying heavily on the money from gigs, but fortunately, I'm not in that position. But you know yourself: in the past year, I've gone hell for leather. I worked hard to start making a name for myself. I suppose, with all the cancellations, the main worry is thinking that all the hard work is gone, I'm sure that is not the case, but that is the kind of thing I worry about. It is also tough to see all my friends who were relying heavily on money, struggling to pay their rent. Out of nowhere, everything is gone.
How’s life in lockdown for you?
I'm staying with my girlfriend. We go for walks – she has dogs, and we take them to a big park. I have a PlayStation that I haven't touched in, like, a year. But I get a lot angrier or upset about small things. I guess it has been the main impact of it.
What do you miss the most about the everyday, outside world?
I miss my family and friends; I miss seeing them at the drop of a hat. I miss waking up on a Sunday and looking at my calendar, and going, 'Okay, I'm in Kerry Tuesday, I'm in Cork, Wednesday, I'm in wherever'. I just told my girlfriend that I would love to be stressed about a gig right now.
Is there anything you wrongly took for granted?
Comedy audiences. I feel like after we're back, I'm going to hug every single member of the audience, after the show. I think we took for granted how fortunate we were that people would come to see us. I took them for granted.
Will live comedy change after the pandemic?
That is something I spend a lot of time thinking about, and I fall into a rabbit hole every time. Initially, I think every comedian is going to have a new, 10- or 20-minutes material which is great. In an ideal world, I’d hope it would make us appreciate it all more. Especially in Ireland, we deal with everything with humour – I think that's more important than ever.