Kevin McGahern: On My Culture Radar
The comedian on his appreciation for Nicolas Cage and Ireland’s ‘calmness’
Current favourite book
I read a lot of comic books, I’m a big child really. Alan Moore elevates the graphic novel to a whole new level, I love his stuff. I’m also reading Declan Lynch and Arthur Matthews’s Notes from a Lost Tribe: The Poor Ould Fellas. It’s a sequel to a book that came out about 10 years ago, and it’s a humorous look at the decline of ould fellas in Irish culture. It’s sad and funny at the same time.
In terms of Irish comedians, I really like Tony Cantwell, who began with making short videos on Facebook. Often, Facebook guys who start doing stage time are horrible stand-up comedians, but he’s brilliant. He plays these well-rounded Irish characters that are familiar but not parochial; he doesn’t rely on stereotypes.
There’s also Shane Clifford, who’s said himself that he struggles with depression, and he put up funny videos about depression on Facebook. Then he turned into a very funny stage act. Sometimes he comes across slightly inept, but that’s on purpose.
Finally, Áine Gallagher is a quiet, unassuming comedian who’s an excellent joke writer. A lot of her material is on the Irish language, which encourages people to learn Irish in a fun way. She’s definitely going to go places too.
I used to hate musicals, or at least I thought I did, but I’ve started to going to more now and I love them. I saw Hairspray recently. Like the film, it was fun and it tackles social issues. There are themes of racism, social acceptance and body image stuff, it’s like it was written yesterday. But the best musical I’ve ever seen was The Book of Mormon by Matt Stone and Trey Parker. I had tears rolling down my face watching it, not only from laughing but also from joy because it blew me away. We’ll probably get it in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in about 16 years.
I’ve mostly been listening to Judas Priest’s new album, Firepower. They’re old as fuck but they’re still producing really good metal, and they’re playing at the end of this month supporting Ozzy Osbourne, so I’ll hopefully see them. My two favourite types of music are country and metal, so my dream is to combine the two and be the first country metal artist. Hayseed Dixie aren’t bad, but I’m looking for more double bass drums and a lead singer with tight pants doing flying kicks in the air.
I like Berlin for the nightlife. I like that you can get a bottle of beer at a hotdog stand at four in the morning, or stay in a nightclub until 6am. But as I’m getting older, I do find myself appreciating Dublin more. While the whole world is going insane, there is an island of calm here that we need to appreciate more.
I really enjoyed Lakeith Stanfield who’s in in Sorry to Bother You and Atlanta. He’s the coolest dude I’ve ever seen. He always looks like an outsider no matter who he’s sharing a scene with, which makes him relatable. My other favourite actor is Nicolas Cage. I’d watch him selling orange juice. I’m sure he’s completely insane, but there’s too many actors coming out of posh schools in England with complicated names. I want to see more absolute lunatics.
I listen to Comedy Bang! Bang! consistently because I’m a comedy nerd. It’s done by Scott Aukerman, who used to be a writer for Mr Show. It’s a very silly podcast where comedians play ridiculous characters and improv for 90 minutes. Eleanor Tiernan also recommended Dear Joan and Jericha to me. It’s a parody of a self-help podcast where you write into them, but they’re just the worst women in the world. They’re utter snobs, they slate everyone who writes in, and they give the worst advice. It stars Julia Davis who was in all my favourite British comedies of the ’90s.
Social media profile
My friend Áine McDermott (@AineMcD) is hilarious on Twitter but has a criminally low follower count. She went viral a couple of weeks ago when she wrote about how she got a free meal because her husband won a competition at work on who could put the most marshmallows in their mouth. He managed 13. She was on the radio and everything.
Nathan for You is my favourite show of the last couple of years. It’s technically a reality show with this inept, awkward man who helps out small businesses. He often gives the worst ideas that sometimes work out well, like he took a coffee shop in LA that wasn’t doing well, and rebranded it as Dumb Starbucks. It was the most popular thing in LA for a few days, until it got shut down. I also enjoyed Broad City and Derry Girls.
I really enjoyed Eighth Grade by Bo Burnham, about a 14-year-old girl making the switch to high school, who makes these cringeworthy self-help YouTube videos that no one watches. It’s heart-breaking. It makes me so grateful that I wasn’t in secondary school when Instagram and YouTube were a thing. I don’t know how the hell kids cope.
Kevin McGahern’s Solo Pollo tour runs until March. See kevinmcgahern.com for dates