THE VODAFONE Comedy Carnival Galway opens on Tuesday October 24 and among the events taking place that day will be Bob’s Blundabus arriving on campus at NUI Galway to deliver for some craic, comedy, games, and devilment with the students.
It’s the second time the Blundabus has pulled up on campus on the opening day of the festival, and attests to the ties between the Carnival and the university’s Comedy Soc. Indeed society auditor Niall Horisk and vice-auditor Sarah O'Gorman are both on the VCCG Programme, playing the Roisin Dubh Comedy Showcase at 9pm, also on the Carnival’s opening night.
The society has hit the ground running for the academic year of 2017/18. “It’s been a busy semester already,” says Niall, with Comedy Soc having already hosted gigs by Irish Comedian of The Year Steve Bennett, Ryan Cullen, and Damien Clark, while this evening at 7pm in Sult, the college bar, the society hosts A Stevening, featuring the aforementioned Mr Bennet, along with flamboyant singer-songwriter Steven Sharpe.
“Two of Galway’s favourite bearded wonders will deliver the best of comedy and music,” says Niall. “Both the guys are very popular with the student population. They’re both active in various causes, so it all ties in with the theme of the Student’s Union’s Equality Week. It’ll also be a good laugh and with good tunes.”
Niall, Sarah, the rest of the committee, and the “team of people who help with promotion and putting up posters, the foot soldiers of the society” (as Niall calls them ) have revitalised Comedy Soc which, having enjoyed a number of years of lively activity, had subsequently gone into something of a decline.
“When I arrived in university the society only ran a couple of improv workshops, but a number of us got tighter and started getting things moving again,” says Niall. “Since then we’ve had a number of stand-up shows and been nominated for at the Board of Irish College Societies Awards.”
The society is also linked with the Róisín Dubh, and is responsible for promoting the Tuesday Showcase and offering student deal prices for the Róisín Dubh Comedy Clubh. “Kevin Healy and Steve Bennett have bene very supportive,” says Niall. “It’s quite an honour to have that partnership between the Róisín and the Comedy Soc.”
Niall describes the society’s mission: “We want to support some of the best emerging talent on campus; let students know about the great comedy scene in Galway; and bring comedy to the students,” he says. Indeed, after A Stevening and the Comedy Carnival, the society swings back into action on Monday November 6, hosting a triple bill of Emma Idhama, Martin Angolo, and Oisín Hanlon. There will also be a chance for any aspiring comedians to have a go themselves.
“We like to offer an open mic spot before the headliner,” says Niall. “It’s a good opportunity for them to try comedy before an audience, but there is never any pressure to perform, you can just come along and have a laugh.”
Niall is from Sligo and is now in third year at NUIG. His introduction to comedy was via an unlikely duo of his mother and Tommy Tiernan. “Mum got Tommy Tiernan’s first DVD and let me watch it with her,” Niall recalls. “She didn’t realise how blue the language gets, and there was I six years of age, sitting beside her - don’t tell social services! I’ve since taken her to see Tommy and I’ve meet him as well. He really is a formative influence.”
Niall became interested in pursuing stand-up comedy but it was only after a year in New Zealand and his arrival in Galway to study at university, that he found the opportunity to pursue that passion. “I went to a night that was being hosted by Steve Bennett, it was an open mic, so I got up and performed some stand-up and I’ve ben doing it since.”
Niall recently hosted the Róisín’s Tuesday Showcase for the first time, and has performed at the Comedy Crunch and Wheelman’s in Dublin and in Cork. His main focus right now though is the building of Comedy Soc.
“It’s been constant since the start of their and we want to continue that,” says Niall. “For next year we hope to stage larger gigs, eventually using the Bailey Allan Hall. We also want to deepen the relationship with the Comedy Carnival and strengthen ties with the Róisín Dubh, as well as strengthen ties with our fellow societies. We want Comedy Soc to be something that continues for years to come.”
For more see NUIG Comedy Society on Facebook. See also www.vodafonecomedycarnival.com