ANDREW MAXWELL is a regular face on RTÉ’s The Panel alongside Dara O’Briain, Colin Murphy, Ed Byrne, and Neil Delamare. The cheeky chap from Kilbarrack draws chuckles whether ranting about D4s and their SUVs or making sexual advances towards Grainne Seoige.
Although Maxwell has based himself in London since the mid 1990s it wasn’t until in 2005 that Channel 4 awarded him the title ‘King Of Comedy’ that things really started to take off for him.
In 2005 he performed at the Secret Policeman’s Ball alongside Eddie Izzard and Chevy Chase and also appeared at the HBO Comedy Festival in Las Vegas with Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld.
Around this time Maxwell also began developing a variety show called Maxwell’s Fullmooners which incorporated comedy, music, breakdancing, and howling at the moon. It has enjoyed successful runs at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and at the Alexandra Palace in London. Metro declares it “promises madness, mirth and werewolf impressions”.
Andrew Maxwell will now bring Maxwell’s Fullmooners to The Black Box Theatre on Halloween Night on Friday October 31 at 10.30pm for what is sure to be the ultimate party.
Under Mount Temple school clock
From an early age Andrew was drawn to the showbiz arena and performed his first stand-up comedy gig at 17. Considering he attended Mount Temple Comprehensive secondary school during his teens it is hardly surprising he chose such a path.
The Clontarf multi-denominational state-funded school is where U2 were formed and other former pupils include writer Christopher Nolan, singer/songwriter Damien Dempsey, model/writer Amanda Brunker, humanitarian Ali Hewson, and footballer Alan Maybury.
“Damien Dempsey was in the year behind me,” Andrew tells me. “We have a mutual best friend so I see him every so often and we hang out. Amanda Brunker was in several classes with me. The director Kirsten Sheridan [daughter of Jim Sheridan] was a couple of years below Amanda and me in school.
“Scriptwriter/director Gerry Stembridge was there as a teacher and he would have taught my sister. The school was quite open-minded, there was no uniform, it was free and there was a mix of Catholic and Protestant students.
“They gave Christopher Nolan, who was severely disabled, the chance of an education when no other school in Dublin would have him. I look back on my days at Mount Temple with fondness because it was from the encouragement I received in school that I started doing stand-up.
“I would’ve been taught by a lot of the same teachers that taught U2. They saw I had a bit of talented and they encouraged me to pursue it a bit further. I think if I’d have gone to the local Christian Brothers, like a lot of my mates went to, I would’ve got the s**t kicked out me!”
Andrew performed his first open mic stand-up gigs at Mount Temple and before long he was making his way towards the emerging Comedy Cellar in Dublin’s International Bar, which also proved to be the launch pad for Dylan Moran, Tommy Tiernan, Graham Norton, and Andrew Maxwell.
“I started doing open mics when I was 17 and a month after my 18th birthday I did my first public stand-up gig,” he says. “I was lucky because I fell under the wing of the Mr Trellis Boys (Ardal O’Hanlon, Barry Murphy, and Kevin Gildea ) and they gave me stage time.
“They were university-educated and in their mid-30s yet they were able to take a Dublin scumbag like me on board. At the time there was nothing really going on in Ireland apart from The Empire in Belfast, The GPO in Galway, The City Limits in Cork and The Comedy Cellar in Dublin. To get good at stand-up you needed to be practising your material five or six nights a week and that wasn’t really possible in Ireland.
“I moved over to London when I was 20 just to get work on the circuit over there. Dylan Moran, Kevin Gildea, and Ardal O’Hanlon had gone over a few months beforehand. Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews moved over around the same time as well. So, when I went over they gave all gave me a lot of contacts”
The plethora of Irish comedians on the London circuit in the early 1990s meant the bar for stand-up at home was being considerably raised. In 1990 Sean Hughes became the youngest ever winner of the Perrier Comedy Award in Edinburgh and this was followed by Dylan Moran in 1996 and Tommy Tiernan in 1998.
On April 21 1995 Irish sitcom Father Ted premiered on Channel 4 and by its third season in 1998 it was ranked alongside Fawlty Towers and Only Fools and Horses in the pantheon of greatest TV comedies of all time.
“Loads of Irish comedians have either been nominated or have won the big prize at Edinburgh,” says Andrew. “That’s some achievement considering the size of the country. I was delighted when David O’Doherty won it this year because he’s done Fullmooners many times down through the years.
“All the guys on The Panel have done a turn at Fullmooners including Jason Byrne, Ed Byrne and Colin Murphy. When Tommy Tiernan did it he flew over especially to London for the show. It’s all about having a celebration and a party.”
Others who have appeared at Maxwell’s Fullmooners in London have included Russell Brand, Simon Pegg, Phil Nicol, and Peter Serafinowicz. “Simon Pegg was already an established movie star when he did Fullmooners. He’s a great guy,” says Andrew.
Galway will get to see what all the fuss is about when Fullmooners comes for Halloween.
“We’ve only ever done it once before in Ireland in Vicar Street,” says Andrew. “When Kevin Healy offered the gig to us I thought Galway was the perfect place to try it out. There’s a real open vibe in Galway and I usually visit there three or four times a year. It’s on Halloween night so I want everyone to come along in fancy dress. Together we can all howl at the moon.”
Tickets are available from the Róisín Dubh and Zhivago, and the Town Hall.