- 20 Oct 21
Irish comedian Keego talked to Hot Press about Eargasm and how he and The Craic Dealers are rebuilding the Irish comedy scene.
Professional funnyman Keego is at the centre of the reconstruction of Irish comedy. After the industry was ravaged by the pandemic, comedians felt like they had been forgotten about by the government. They had no one to listen to their jokes — or their cries for help. As part of comedy group The Craic Dealers, Keego is helping to rebuild the scene; starting with Eargasm.
“The government doesn’t see comedy as a real art. It doesn’t see comedy as real. A group of us have gotten together to build our own scene,” says Keego.
“Eargasm itself is our starting point. It's getting all of my friends together as well as massive headliners like Damo Clark and Joe Rooney to have a starting point for a new scene,” he adds.
Eargasm is a three day event taking place at Drop Dead Twice on Francis Street, Dublin 8 on Halloween weekend (October 29, 30 & 31). Clark headlines on Friday with Rooney taking centre stage Sunday night. Keego will be under the spotlight as part of The Party T*ts along with Ailish McCarthy and Ben Verth on Saturday.
Rascal Comedy will support Clark as Georgia O’ Gorman opens the show for The Party T*ts and Seán Begley supports Joe Rooney.
“We’re going to try and put the giggles in people’s ears so they can forget about all the hassle they’ve had — for a weekend in October and until the end of time,” says Keego.
The weekend is jam-packed with more than just stand-ups though. In true spooky spirit, guests will turn up to the fancy dress event in their best cosplays of pop culture icons and mythological creatures. The best dressed of the 50-strong audience will win a €50 bar tab.
And that’s not all that’s up for grabs over the weekend. For every two tickets you buy, you are entered into a draw to shave Keego’s beard off live on stage — or some other furry feature of the comedian.
“People are scared of what’s under this beard! So we’re not absolutely sure but we’ll figure something out. Something will be shaved, let’s put it that way,” jokes Keego.
Eargasm is a special occasion for Irish comedy as it emerges into a new era. For Keego, they are following in the footsteps of Irish comedic luminaries like Dermot Morgan whilst forging their own futures.
“Dermot Morgan, all these people, they built the road for us and we’re just following that road. We’ve made a few little detours but we’re following down the route of the people who built the scene — but we’re building on it knowing that no one is going to help us.”
“We’re doing it ourselves without help from people and it’s a real DIY ethic from that group of us. The Craic Dealers is what we call ourselves. We’re like a really cheap motorcycle gang.”
It’s this DIY ethos that has resulted in Eargasm. It also helps that there is a wealth of Irish comedic talent if you just scratch below the surface. “The Irish comedy scene — just underneath the mainstream — is massive,” says the Wicklow man.
“The quality is amazing. We’ve built this up ourselves and because we’re not seen as real entertainment, I guess. We’re taking care of ourselves.”
This new era of comedy is born out of one the darkest times in the industry in recent memory. The Me Too movement brought to light the misogyny and abuse at the core of not only comedy, but entertainment as a whole. Keego and his gang of comedians are working to eradicate this horrific culture from the industry.
“What we’re doing with The Craic Dealers is to create an open dialogue with everybody so that if something happens, we stop it,” he says. “We don’t book people who do that, we won’t book people who have done it — we won’t go near them. They won’t be involved in our shows.”
“We need to learn from women,” he adds. “Unfortunately, the vast majority of women in comedy have either had it happen to them or they’ve witnessed it and they’ve been too scared to report it. Because the scene is so small that it affects their career from progressing.”
The Craic Dealers are made up of Keego, fellow Party T*ts Ben Verth and Ailish McCarthy, Sinéad Walsh, Jess Collins and Betsy Speer. Keego believes having a strong female contingent leading the way is key to erasing the problematic figures from comedy.
“We’re surrounded by a group of strong, intelligent, funny women who if they see something they will enlighten us. Myself and Ben Verth — a great Scottish comedian — surround ourselves with strong, hilarious women who are going to show us the way forward in that aspect,” he says.
Eargasm is the first step forward for the new generation of Irish comedy but it won’t stop there for Keego. He will be supporting Ardal O’ Hanlon on November 4th in Ballybrack followed by a gig with The Craic Dealers in Workman’s on November 17th along with Fiona Frawley and Eric Lalor.
The Craic Dealers then travel across the water for The Nottingham Comedy festival on November 19th before returning for a gig in Sandyford House supporting Eric Lalor on November 24th. The comedy collective will finish out the month with a gig in The Grand Social on the 26th followed by a show in Clondalkin on the 27th.
But for the moment, everyone’s attention will be directed toward Eargasm on Halloween weekend.
“It’s a weekend where you can forget about your mortgage, your bills, your angry husband, your angry wife, your boyfriend/girlfriend. Real life goes out the window. I get to sit there and laugh and then get up and try to make people laugh myself. That’s the beauty of it,” says Keego.
Tickets for Eargasm at Drop Dead Twice on October 29, 30 & 31 cost €8. Tickets are available here.