Al Porter is now a household name in Ireland after his appearances on RTE’s Electric Picnic, Next Week’s News, The Savage Eye, and Callan’s Kicks. In advance of his gig at The Civic on Thursday, 11th June, we grilled him about his comedy chops and how it all began….

Where did you grow up?
I still haven’t grown up! I was raised here in Tallaght and still live with the family in Springfield – my Ma is finding it very difficult to get rid of me! I moved into Shane MacGowan’s old flat off Parnell St briefly, but it didn’t work out because I almost drank as much as him!

Myself and my best pal were neighbours and the two most ridiculous young boys you’d find. He loved the Spice Girls, I loved Abba, he loved dressing up as women – I gave him a lend of the costumes! If the lads were playing wrestling we were the ‘managers’, if they played football when they picked the teams they’d choose which ‘cheerleader’ they wanted. We were a gas pair.

Everything revolved around St Mark’s Parish for me – my Ma is the Parish Secretary, my Da (a retired flight sergeant) is the caretaker in the school. But I always loved Jobstown because a school pal of mine was from there and we got away with murder at his house! I still love the Jobstown House!  Where you’re born and raised is just a lottery and I always thought it was odd for you to be proud of something that happened by chance, but the more I travel and the bigger the gigs I do, the more I realise how much of a homebird I am!

Tell me how comedy started for you?
It all began at Karaoke at Captain America’s, Tallaght. I went up each Wednesday, sang a song (usually a pretty saucy rendition of There Are Worse Things I Could Do from Grease) and then I’d take the piss out of the punters!  

At 18, I had thought I was going to be a Priest – until I kissed a particularly dishy one on a pilgrimage and got confused!  I flunked at Trinity, choosing to study English and Philosophy even though my impatience means I’ve only ever finished one book in my life (Stephen Fry’s The Liar).  After skipping too many lectures for the cinema, I dropped out.  I was unemployed… But the highlight of my week was still Karaoke & Captain America’s.

Eventually I went to see stand up there, for the first time, and a lad I went to school with was giving it a go (Paul Heaney).  I couldn’t believe the laughs and love he was getting, and I was a bit jealous so I asked to have my name put down – I tried it once and never looked back.

When did you know it was what you wanted to do?
I’ve always known I wanted to be an Entertainer – from the time I was four years old I was making a show of myself (and the family) to try raise a laugh!  For years I was in musical productions, like I,Keano and Bugsy Malone in places like The Olympia Theatre – and I’ve been doing pantomime there for the last 10 years. But it was only once unemployment and college not working out backed me into a corner, that I knew I had to follow my heart.

Were you always funny?
Depending on the audience, I was always either funny or odd. When I was 8, I wrote a little duologue called ‘Carrot and Potato’ about two vegetables arguing over which of them was to be harvested next. A few classmates asked me to do it while I was in the yard, and within the first two minutes I had the entire yard stopped, sitting down and watching me. And there I was, in second class, arguing with myself in front of the other children, while they howled with laughter, and the teachers got concerned. So is that funny, or odd?

What would you be doing if you weren’t a comedian?
I’ve never been the kind of person who wanted a career in an office.  I suppose I’d be doing something with the public – maybe teaching Drama seeing as I have a diploma in that – or making rolls in Centra and slagging the hole off the hungover heads that come in for a chicken roll! 

Have you ever had an embarrassing moment on stage?
I think the most embarrassing moment was launching into a story about a Nun that I smoked weed with – only to realise she was in the audience. I could barely make her out, with the dark room and blinding stage lights, but I could tell the man beside her was wearing a black shirt and had a white collar. She was unimpressed.

Who is your biggest comedy inspiration?
Very few of my generation remember him – but I absolutely adore Frankie Howerd. A master of innuendo and the double-take. I’ve always liked old-school, broad, belly laugh comedy – Kenny Everett, Brendan O Carroll, Danny Lar Rue, Kenneth Williams! It’s an extensive list!

Do you have a favourite one liner joke?
An old one-liner that I love (not my own) is a music-hall gag (that sums up my nights out and one night stands) “I’m so tired. If I’m not in bed by eleven, I’m going home” 

What can audiences expect from your gig at The Civic?
The Civic is more important than Vicar Street – because it’s a homecrowd. And I love that. They can expect lots of outrageous stories, some sketch and a good bit of song too! My special guests Totally Wired – a musical comedy duo – will be joining me and there might just be a bit of audience participation too!
Al Porter comes to The Civic on Thursday, 11th June. Tickets are selling fast so book now to avoid disappointment. ONSALE FROM CIVICTHEATRE.IE