- 01 Aug 18
He garnered national acclaim for his rambling, deadpan monologues - all delivered in a Tyrone drawl - on RTE's Nighthawks during the early '90s. His voice has since become one of the most recognisable in Irish comedy. His latest stand-up routine, Kevin McAleer-Guru, takes aim at the worrying rise, as he sees it, of the self-help industry.
"In this routine, I'm a mindfulness guru who travels around the world spreading enlightenment...and selling lots of self-help books and courses along the way," he laughs. "That's the basic set-up. It's a take on the mindfulness and personal awareness fad. In the show, I basically am a charlatan guru who preaches enlightenment but is, in reality, laughing all the way to the bank.
"I started writing this show about a year and a half ago and showcased it at the Edinburgh Fringe festival. I've been adding to it ever since. So it continues to write itself even now, which is a really lovely problem to have!"
It wasn't just inspiration that led him to satirise the self-help sages - Kevin makes clear that he was also taking on his comedic competition.
"There's so many of these courses about!" he says. "When I'm doing these theatre shows and programmes across the country, you're competing with people doing these mindfulness courses. I found it interesting that it attracts so many people. I also have a general interest in psychology and would read various books about it. I don't practice mindfulness myself. I've watched a lot to research videos on it. I'll tell you, there's hundreds and hundreds of dubious gurus out there."
Kevin's new show comes just as he re-entered the public eye playing 'boring' Uncle Colm on Channel 4's Derry Girls. That part was surely tailor-made for him?
"Yeah they asked me and it obviously made sense because it was very similar to my original Nighthawks character," he explains. " Derry Girls was very enjoyable. It was also nice to get a good reception. People seem to think that you've died if you're not on TV constantly. And people are more likely to come to your live show if they're aware that you're not dead. So it was a handy PR exercise in showing that I was still breathing!"
Does he return for season two?
"The people that make the show were in touch about Uncle Colm making his boring reappearance. So you'll get more confirmation I'm not dead next season."
Before that, we'll get a chance to see Kevin's in the flesh at All Together Now.
"A festival is a good place to do this show, because there's always a bit of 'Mind, Body, Spirit' element. An hour of mindfulness-guru-ing would surely fit right in. Perhaps not at 5pm in the Comedy Tent. Obviously my idea is to make people laugh, rather than give them a calm spiritual experience!"
All we can say is: keep it up, Kevin.