Women We Love: Alison Spittle, Comedienne, Actress, Comedy Writer

I had the pleasure of chatting to Alison Spittle, who every time I check in on her social media, seems to be growing from strength to strength, constantly progressing within her career.

And is it any wonder? Absolutely not.

Spend a few moments chatting to this woman and you will soon see why she is now considered a force of nature in the comedy circuit. Her witticisms and hilarity leave you bellowing with laughter and her well thought out narrative always impresses and strikes humorous reactions from her audience.

Alison has worked in iRadio, RTÉ Radio 1 and Newstalk, has created sketches for ‘Republic of Telly’ and has written and starred in her RTÉ Two sit-com ‘Nowhere Fast’ in 2017. She is also the host and creator of ‘The Alison Spittle Show’ podcast hosted by headstuff.org.

She began working in comedy, supporting PJ Gallagher which led to her participation in ‘So You Think You’re Funny’s’ Irish heats, qualifying for rounds in Edinburgh. She then went on to get a guest spot on the “Happy Hour” section of the John Murray Show RTÉ Radio 1 from this success. This lead to Alison regularly performing at the Edinburgh and Dublin fringe festivals, as well as The Forbidden Fruit and Cork Comedy festivals.

She is about to head on the road for her new Tour titled ‘Alison Spittle Makes A Show Of Herself’, and trust me, you do not want to miss out on seeing Alison live. You are certain to have a great night out. I got to chat with the lady herself before the tour…

How did you get your start in the comedy world?
Comedian Bernard O’Shea worked in the same radio station that I worked in, in Athlone. He encouraged me to start and got me my first gig. I loved it and moved to Dublin to pursue comedy.

I held up a sign and worked the door for Tony Ferns in the battle of the axe in Temple Bar and kept going. Tony gave me lots of gigs and I owe him lots.

Is being on camera, on stage and in the public eye something you always saw yourself doing?

No, I liked performing as a kid but I loved radio, loved Gerry Ryan, Rick O’shea and Jenny Huston when I was a kid.

When I visited my grandparents in England I would hoover up all the BBC stations.
I dreamed of coming up with talking points for Danny baker and Adam and Joe.
I wanted to work in radio very badly.

As a female member of one of the most male driven industries, what challenges did you face getting your career off the ground? And what challenges do you still face?

Once you see a bit of sexism, you see it everywhere.

I thought because I wasn’t conventionally attractive I’d avoid the harassment side of it. When I get older I realised it’s not about attraction, it’s about power for some men.

In short, comedy is a great career but it makes me sad how many women step away from comedy due to misogyny, a majority quit for other reasons but some are definitely hobbled by the patriarchy.

I’ve in built misogyny and just saw other women as rivals but I’m trying my best now to stop that behaviour. Comedy has got a lot better lately but that’s only because promoters realise women buy tickets and women have an audience. More women are doing comedy and the future looks bright.

 

Of all the comedy shows and events you’ve worked at, which has been the most memorable experience and why?
Probably playing the 3 Arena the first time.

In the 3arena, there were so many people and at one point I was overwhelmed by the sound and force of laughter while standing up on stage.

It’s happening again this year and my top picks for the line up is Eleanor Tiernan and Emma Doran. It’s a great way to spend St Patricks day away from the mess that is Dublin city but still great craic and it’s all for charity.

What advice would you offer young women aspiring to fulfil a career in comedy?
Keep going, if someone makes you feel uncomfortable tell another female comedian.
Other than that. Do what you want to do. If you’re given five minutes on stage stick to five minutes, don’t hog the stage.

If you hadn’t pursued working in comedy as a career what do you think you would have done?
I wanted to be a radio producer, but I think I would of been a good tour guide either I could fall back on it.

Alison, I read that when you were in college, a lecturer told you that “women hate listening to other women’s voices, and that’s not sexist – that’s women”. How did that make you feel? Comments like that are utterly non progressive. 

He was quoting some study, I’ve googled it but can’t find it (granted I’ve only spent ten seconds looking).

I think it was a throw away line to him but as a 19 year old I held on to it very deeply. Now I’m older I realise people in authority are just people. If something sounds like BS ask a person to back up their claims even if they’re in authority.

What mantras/mindfulness do you use to cleanse the mind of negative thoughts and keep positive?
Anytime I feel jealous of someone I try to be happy for them and remember how I felt when I got an opportunity. Also sometimes when good things happened to me.

I’d be worried people would hate me for doing well and it horrifies me to think other people might feel that way. So I try really hard to be happy for people and imagine they would be happy for me.

Speaking of mindfulness, how do you split your time between working and your downtime?
I watch Rupaul’s drag race or youtube fights in chippers.

What has been your proudest career moment to date? And what are your goals for 2019?
Nowhere fast was one of the best things I made and I got to write it with an amazing talented writer and work with a lovely crew and fantastic cast.

What is your morning routine to get you through the working day?
Get out of the house within an hour and go to a cafe and write, meet a friend, take some phone calls and then go to the library and do admin. So much of my work is admin and top it off with a nice gig in the evening.

Where are your favourite places to eat and drink in Dublin?
Assassination Custard (kevin St) is an incredible place to eat when it’s open. I keep passing it at the wrong time. Seasonal food and a well thought out menu, lovely staff. I miss Boojum since moving to London, we are blessed to have it. My favourite place to drink is maybe the Workmans Club in Dublin?

What are your top three beauty essentials?

Carmex.

Penney’s have a lovely perfume for £2 called mint mojito.

Sandy Nails in Rathmines is my favourite nail place. They put on Britain’s Got Talent on the telly so you can watch a fella swallowing a sword while you get a manicure.

Favourite gadget and why?
My phone because it has the worlds knowledge at your finger tips and people can send you Irish celeb scandal via whatsapp voice notes.

Are you an early bird or a night owl?
Night owl but also I can’t lie in either so I don’t get much sleep.

Your greatest food pleasure?
I once had a taster menu at chapter one with matching wines. It was a lot of money but I still think about it years on.

If you could tell your 16 year-old self anything, what would it be?
You’re going to balls some things up but you’re going to be fine.

Can you share any exciting plans you have in the pipeline?
I’ve a new play out on the 19th and 20th of February called Starlet in Smock Alley. The actors are great and I’ve a load of sound people help making it happen.

You can follow Alison on Instagram Twitter.

Alison also has a tour coming up and you can check out the dates here:

Article by Linda Coogan Byrne, Contributing writer at IndulgeMe.ie. You can follow Linda on InstagramTwitter and LinkedIn.


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