‘Are you willing to lose a relationship over cutlery?’ ‘Yes, I am’

In conversation: Sarah Breen and Joanne McNally

When did you last cry?

Sarah: I bawled my eyes out on Saturday night because I had a bottle of wine and I got a message from this girl who had read our book and – spoiler alert there's an abortion storyline in the book – she was home for Christmas and sitting around with her mother and her mother's best friends. They were talking about the book and their lives and abortion. She was saying it was amazing to spark that conversation with them.

Joanne: I'm so embarrassed. I cried today because I'm really hungover. My boyfriend goes mad when I leave dirty cutlery in the sink. He had a go at me, and I cried and accused him of not loving me.

Sarah: How dare he do that in your fragile state.

Joanne: I know. He was like, 'are you willing to lose a relationship over cutlery?' And I said 'Yes, I am.'


Where is your favourite destination to visit?

Joanne: I haven't been there yet, but I'm going to Italy this year for the first time and I'm really into it.

Sarah: I was in India a few years ago and I loved it. Loved the people, loved the vibe. I only saw a very small part of it.

What would be your death row meal?

Joanne: Coleslaw.

Sarah: I'm from down the country where coleslaw is considered a glamorous 'side'. I think a good margherita pizza.

If you had to enact a government policy tomorrow, what would it be?

Sarah: I'd push for the repeal of the Eighth Amendment, and maybe something to do with utilising empty buildings.

Joanne: Repeal of course, because I'm pro-choice. In a fantasy land I'd like to eradicate birthdays so that we've no idea what age we are. We're just born, we live, our knees get sore and we die. No pressure and there'd be no such thing as a midlife crisis.

Is there any artist you feel particularly connected to right now?

Joanne: I'm reading Skippy Dies by Paul Murray. It's amazing, so I feel connected to Paul.

Sarah: I've always been a massive fan of Marian Keyes. When I moved away for a couple of years and lived in America, you have a small amount of stuff you can bring in a box. I thought 'what would make me feel at home?' So I brought Rachel's Holiday and Watermelon.

What word do you most overuse?

Joanne: 'Murder'. I write about murder, I talk about murder, my favourite podcast is My Favourite Murder.

Sarah: 'Annoying' is probably my word. I'm always complaining and everything annoys me. It's like I go out of my way to be annoyed sometimes. I follow people on social media who really annoy me.

Joanne: That's like rage porn, people who get aroused by being annoyed.

Sarah: I'm not aroused!

Joanne: Well you're roused.

Sarah: Yes, I'm roused.

What’s your favourite item of clothing?

Joanne: Nike Air Max.

Sarah: I don't have sentimentality attached to clothes. I don't invest in clothes.

Joanne: I'd like to be more stylish than I am, but I'm not arsed.

Sarah: Same.

Joanne: When I worked in PR, in youth communications, it was like hipster soup. Whoever you work with, they rub off on you. You start mimicking each other. We were all wearing Adidas runners with six tongues and gold bike chains. Then this fashion team started to grow and they were all wearing black, so we started wearing head to toe black. We got real fash-forward. Now I'm back to being a lazy cow.

Do you have any particular motto or mantra?

Joanne: 'No one owes you anything.'

Sarah: I don't have one, so I'm going to adopt that.

Why do you think you do what you do?

Sarah: I think I got very lucky in that I hitched my wagon to my friend Emer who is very talented and somehow together we were able to come up with something. So, her.

Joanne: PJ Gallagher gave me an opportunity, suggested I do standup and brought me on tour. That's technically why I'm doing it.

Who do you think should play you in the biopic of your life?

Joanne: Amy Huberman.

Sarah: It's a law that Amy Huberman has to play all the roles

Joanne: She does!

Sarah: I would also like Amy Huberman to play me.

Joanne: Who else is there?

Do you have any tattoos?

Sarah: No.

Joanne: Tattoos are a permanent version of a temporary idea.

Who would you most like to receive a letter from?

Joanne: Graham Norton. I'd try and make him my mentor. He makes his own wine and all.

Sarah: Is there anything he can't do?

Joanne: No, he's like Katie Price.

Sarah: Haven't heard from her in a while.

Joanne: She's going through a separation. Her husband rode the nanny. Again.

Sarah: When I was 16, I wrote to Peggy Gallagher, mother of Liam and Noel, and she sent me back a signed picture, but I would like a letter back from Liam and Noel.

Joanne: You wrote to their mother? That's thinking outside the box.

What do you worry about the most?

Joanne: That I'm wasting my life, that I'm not working hard enough, gigging enough, writing enough. It feels like everyone's banging out 12 books a year, and then you hear 'Book sold for €6 million, Amy Huberman to play everyone'.

Sarah: Damn you Amy!

Joanne: And she's writing books as well!

Sarah: And she's writing TV shows. Is there anything she can't do?

Joanne: When I play 'Shag, Marry, Kill' with my boyfriend, I always put in Amy Huberman, and he always marries Amy. He won't marry me, but he'll hypothetically marry Amy Huberman. She has it all going on.

Sarah: I worry about my kids; am I doing everything wrong? Am I ruining their childhoods? Do they have any good memories?

Sarah Breen is the co-author with Emer McLysaght of Oh My God, What A Complete Aisling! Joanne McNally's new standup show Wine Tamer is at Whelan's in Dublin on February 2nd