- 11 Apr 20
No.2 in a series. Interview by Shamim Malekmian
Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, more than anything else, Richy Sheehy misses the sound of laughter. The 29-year-old comic – also a Masters Student at Trinity College, Dublin – now seeks laughter in virtual classrooms.
This is a hassle, as Sheehy has to press a button to raise a cyber-hand, merely to tell a joke. His classmates have their earphones muted, often, so whether any of his gags work or not, is anybody’s guess. It makes Sheehy, who is staying on a friend’s couch in Dublin, even more restless.
The comedian shares the spotlight with his brainchild and altar ego (of sorts) Kevin Murphy.
One day, on a whim, and inspired by a Simpsons episode, Sheehy recorded a parody-song for Liverpool FC in the guise of Kevin Murphy – a fanatic Liverpool fan from Cork, Sheehy’s hometown. It went viral, garnering millions of hits, taking Murphy all over the world – and in the process complicating Sheehy’s identity as a comic.
Not that he minds Murphy’s success. But he doesn’t want to be pigeon-holed by the character. Our guess is that he won’t be.
Richy was gigging in Amsterdam when live comedy was upended. He flew to Dublin, lost his student accommodation, and grew agitated and homesick. Yet the experience has made him more conscious than ever of the fragility of unheeded, small pleasures. That’s a lesson worth learning, Sheehy tells Hot Press.
How did your life as a comedian change after the pandemic?
It changed significantly. I’m not doing any gigs, so I lost that. And comedy is a social type of job, so you miss meeting all the other comedians. On top of that, it’s not like you can get the pandemic payment from the Government (laughs). And even in my studies, I enjoyed being the comedian in my class, and I’ve lost that too. I took to my class’s WhatsApp group, and said, “Hey guys, I’d really appreciate it if you could have your earphones on when I tell a joke in [online classes], so I can hear the laughs. It really helps my self-esteem. I’ve been sitting here using canned laughs, but it just doesn’t do it for me.”
How do you find life indoors?
It’s fine. I go a little bit crazy. I’ve been pretty much under lockdown for the last 15 days. I’m living with three other people, and some days you’re feeling good, some days you’re feeling weird.
I heard a prisoner say that.
Yeah, yeah. Maybe in prison they always feel like that!
What do you miss most about the outside world?
It’s good to see people coming up to you after a gig. I miss that. And I miss being on stage.
Is there anything that you now realise you took for granted in normal life
Everything. Just our complete freedom of movement. I’ll give you a very good example. Tomorrow I have to go to Cork for a hospital appointment. I’m going to get an immune suppressant, ‘cause I have Crohn’s [disease]. For six weeks, I was dreading that because you feel terrible afterwards, but now I’m looking forward to it. If the Guards stop me, I have a genuine reason. I get to travel to Cork, go to the hospital, walk in Cork city, go back to the train station. It’s a holiday for me. It’s pure leisure. I am delighted!
Will live comedy change in any way as a result of the pandemic?
I am afraid that it’s going to affect a lot of people mentally. Even when we are allowed out again, it might take a long time to be able to build up. I think a lot of people won’t be up for sitting in a dark room watching a bunch of comedians, for months after this is over. I think it’s going to have a massive affect for a long time.
I guess you get used to things. If we’re going to be in lockdown for three or four months, people are going to get used to little things they do to make themselves happy at home. And then you’ll get used to routines. I think it will be tougher to be a comedian after this.