Rory O’Hanlon is an Irish comedian and actor who is a regular face on Irish TV; having featured on RTE’s New Comedy Awards, Republic of Telly and Under The Influence. Rory O’Hanlon is a veteran of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and can, in fact, be found there this year with his new show ‘Getting Serious‘; which is on from the 5th to the 26th of August at Opium. Rory O’Hanlon has performed both nationally and internationally, including gigs in Moscow, Berlin, Monte Carlo and more. In 2016, Rory O’Hanlon performed at the prestigious Perth Comedy Festival in Australia. He is also a prolific writer, having written for Irish Post, Chortle and Hot Press Magazine. Please enjoy my interview with Rory O’Hanlon…
When someone asks you ‘what do you do for a living?’ – How do you respond?
I tell them I’m a comedian. I find you get a good response. Occasionally somebody will tell you jokes, but it could be a lot worse. You could be a traffic warden.
The Comedy Bible by Judy Carter. It’s a great book if you want to improve as a comedian. It gives you good writing drills that will improve your material.
What’s your earliest memory of reading?
As a kid, I was a massive football fan. I would buy lots of football books, I loved them for getting an insight into the players’ lives. I remember loving the smell of a new book. Annuals like Shoot and Match are classics nowadays. I use to collect match day programmes as well; FA cup finals, big rugby games etc. My Dad’s friends would all get them all for me at the matches they went to and I would spend days and days reading them.
If you could encourage young people to read one book in particular, what would it be?
The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma. It’s a spiritual journey, littered with powerful life lessons that teach us how to abandon a material life to pursue your own proper destiny.
When did you fall in love with making people laugh?
After my first gig, I thought this is the life. You get to travel the world and do comedy gigs. It’s not really a job. It’s like an extended summer holiday!
What is the worst job you’ve ever had?
Working as a contract cleaner. I had to clean the ink off the roof of the Irish Times newspaper; so every day I left work looking like a Smurf. The ink is still on parts of my body 20 years later.
What two pieces of advice would you give a young aspiring comedian?
Go and do a gig at your local comedy club. See how you feel after that. If you liked it, keep gigging and writing new material.
Who would you say your three biggest comedic influences are?
When I was growing up it was just knocking around with my mates and making each other laugh. That’s all I have ever tried to do. So I would say growing up in Dublin was the biggest influence. I don’t think I’ve been influenced by people, but rather I admire what they do.
Do you read as much as you’d like to?
I try to! You get a lot of time to read in this job as you’re travelling so much and a good book can make it a bit easier. I try to read one a month.
What books do you feel are important reading for people on your career path?
Self-help books help keep up a positive vibe, or any book by a comedian telling their story. Frank Skinner: Autobiography by Frank Skinner is very good. Everybody starts at the same place in comedy, which is comforting to know.
The Second Half by Roy Keane. It was his second biography and he had a few scores to settle. It’s a great read, very funny and insightful. He pulls no punches and I love his work ethic in getting to the top in football.
What book have you recommended the most to friends and family?
I gave up drinking alcohol in 2006. If anyone is struggling with an addiction problem I would recommend The Alcoholism And Addiction Cure by Chris Prentiss. It’s a great insight into the mind of an addict written by the father of an addict, Chris Prentiss.
If you weren’t in comedy, what do you think you’d be doing?
I might have tried acting as I always had in the back of my mind to try either comedy or acting. I found comedy easier to get into. I don’t think I could have done anything else without giving comedy a try first.
What’s your favourite genre of book?
Autobiographies of sports people; Tiger Woods, Mohammed Ali and Bono. I know he’s not a sports star but he’s much more than a just a pop star.
What do you think a world without books would be like?
A lot of people on their phones and tablets. Kindles are very popular. Everybody is downloading titles onto laptops and tablets, but I still feel the book is the best format for reading.
Is there an author whose writing you’re such a fan of, that you’ll read everything they release?
Not really, I’m much more likely to pick up a random book that somebody has recommended to me.
Do you think digital books will ever completely replace real books?
Possible, I think the bookshop will go first since everything is available online. I still feel that people like to own a new book. It feels more of an accomplishment to finish a physical book, much more so than on a Kindle.
What book do you feel humanity needs most right now?
Any book that can help people be more understanding of others’ beliefs. The world at this moment in time needs to understand each other a bit more.
Are there any books you haven’t mentioned that you feel would make your reading list?
I can only dream of having a reading list. Let me come back to you on that.
What books or subject matter do you plan on reading in the next year?
I have just bought Alex Ferguson: My Biography by Alex Ferguson. I’m a big Man United fan so can’t wait to read this book. He was a pure genius and the way he became the greatest football manager of all time is a very exciting story.
If you were to write an autobiography – what would it be called?
This Better Be Funny by Rory O’Hanlon.