FROM COMEDY sketches about life in the GAA to more serious issues about mental health, it is likely you will have come across the work of Rory O'Connor if you are a regular user of Facebook.
The Ashbourne native has been producing video content for social media for close on four years now and his slapstick take on GAA life has seen his Facebook page amass more than 370,000 followers. His reasoning behind concentrating on the GAA genre was simple - in spite of the sporting organisation's cultural and societal significance in Irish life, no one had never really attempted to take a satirical view of Ireland's favourite pastime.
"In 2013 I started a blog called Rory's Stories. It was funny stories about myself, and in January 2014, I began making videos," says O'Connor. "The GAA market was wide open at the time, no one had really attempted to do comedic GAA sketches, so I started making GAA videos and getting my name out there. Now I still do the GAA piece but I do a lot of other stuff as well.
From Whacker Murphy, a Dublin fan, who shows up for the big matches with little knowledge of football, to Eugene from Oldcastle, who harks back to glory days of Meath football when 'men were men', the characters and GAA stereotypes that O'Connor plays in his videos are instantly recognisable even for those who do not have great involvement with the sport, some are based on real people.
"It is a bit of both, some characters are stereotypes and some are very like people I would know. It is based on your very stereotypical GAA in people, and the reputation and image that fans have of each other from other counties."
One character who has gone down a bomb with O'Connor's fans is Cecil - The King of Cavan, played by O'Connor's long time friend Paddy Murphy who also helps shoot and edit the videos. "Paddy is a great mate and he is very heavily involved with Rory's Stories. His character Cecil - The King of Cavan has been a big hit for us over the summer. I suppose at the start of the year we were doing previews of the championship and we were trying to do as many counties as possible.
"We thought it would be hilarious to have a white T-shirt with 'Up Cavan' written on it because he [Cecil] was too tight to buy a jersey. And when we were going out into my back garden, Paddy copped a pair of glasses and swimming hat on the window sill and he said he would put them on for the craic and the character has been really well received since then. We never in a million years thought Cecil would be as popular as he is."
Although comedy is O'Connor's remit, he believes the highlighting of mental health issues in his work is very important. "Mental health is something I have always been passionate about. I try to do something serious the odd time and use my social media pages to make people aware of mental health. Even though views have improved, there is a stigma attached to those suffering mental health issues around the country. Please God, the bigger my reputation and my social media following grows, I hope to implement that more and more as things go on.
O'Connor will be performing his popular stand up act at An Taibhdhearc Theatre on Sunday October 29, an area of his comedic act which he says provides him with a new challenge to that of recording videos.
"Attempting to find an angle for myself for the live show was probably the hardest aspect for me. I am not a comedian that stands there and tells jokes. I am just not into that. I much prefer improv. My style is more storytelling and energy, just madness more than anything. I feel I have three or four more years learning before I can call myself a big gun of stand up but I am really enjoying it at present."
Joining him on stage is another comedian making waves on the social media scene, Enya Martin, better known as Giz A Laugh. O'Connor and Martin have been producing the hugely successful boyfriend/girlfriend sketches on Facebook where at least 10 of their videos have received more than a million views each. The comedic pair teamed up when O'Connor decided to reach out to Martin after seeing some of her work.
"I just saw Enya one day on Facebook and I just liked her, I thought she was very good. I reached out to her a year or two ago and asked if she fancied teaming up for a few videos and she was interested. I said there is a market for a boyfriend/girlfriend genre of video so we started doing them. We never would have imagined how well those videos have done. Those videos are definitely the biggest hits that both of us have. They have been a great success for Enya and myself."
Looking towards the future, although he accepts GAA comedy is his bread and butter, O'Connor believes it is important for him to diversify into other areas of comedy.
"If I had stayed with GAA forever we probably would not be having this conversion right now. I might be already washed up. You have to keep evolving. I believe I have done as much GAA as I can do. I am very proud that I started pushing GAA comedy. It is something that I do not want to let go. I want to be always one of the big hitters when it comes to that market, but obviously I want to grow and improve my act and that is to diversify into other areas. I will 100 per cent keep doing GAA videos when the time is right, during the Championship, but off season then, I will be dabbling in overall Irish humour."
For tickets see www.vodafonecomedycarnival.com