Comedy and Equality


As Armagayddon and The Nualas star Tara Flynn prepares to release her debut book, Patrick Kelleher sits down with her to discuss equality, racist B&Bs, and Irish self-help

When you sit down and talk to Tara Flynn, it’s immediately clear that she is passionate about her work. Delighted to have the opportunity to chat about her varied career, it is clear her lengthy and successful repetoire, encompassing work as a comedian, actress, singer and writer, has undoubtedly manifested itself in a confident, intelligent performer.

While many people would identify Flynn as a comedian, acting is where her passion for performance began. From a very young age she had dreams of becoming an actor. “From a tiny kid, yeah. That, and a vet.” she laughs. While the veterinarian dream took a backseat, comedy soon raised its brazen head following an accidental meeting between herself, Anne Gildea and Sue Collins.

‘We were all at a party together one night, and we started with the guitar, messing about improvising songs, and a few of them stuck and we agreed to meet up a few weeks later and do them in The International.’ This chance performance was the conception of what would become the music and comedy group The Nualas.

To say Flynn’s comedy and acting has evolved since her roots with The Nualas would be an understatement. Her YouTube channel has encountered enormous success, racking up hundreds of thousands of views. Much of her comedy takes on the issue of equality. She tackles homophobia in her Armagayddon sketch, which is satirically set in a post-referendum world where equal marriage has become a reality; the video has racked up over two hundred thousand views alone.

She believes the Marriage Equality campaign can be successful, but that an effort must be made. “We have to mobilise, we have to talk about it.” She reflects “You need to check that you’re registered, you need to vote when the time comes, and you need to talk to everyone you know about it. It will probably be quite close, even though it feels, especially when you’re at a university, or you’re at the March for Marriage, like it’ll be a landslide, because there’s such a feeling of goodwill. It feels like such a positive bit of progress for our country, and it seems to me, it’s a no-brainer, it makes sense. To some people it doesn’t, and we will have to make sure that everyone who is pro-equality votes.”

Alongside these passionate viewpoints are her thoughts on racism. Racist B&B, another short sketch was a triumphant success for Flynn, including winning her the Satirist of the Year title at Trim’s Swift Satire Festival. Though in this case, it was personal. “It was my husband who got racial abuse. My husband’s black, he’s African-American, and he got racist abuse, and that was my response, because I am a comedy writer and a performer, and that was my way of saying ‘Screw you!’, to the guys that doled it out to him.” she explains.

Yet she’s quick to point out that these causes all fit together easier than some believe. “People will say ‘Oh, it’s all your various causes!’ I don’t have loads of various causes at all, I have one: equality. It all boils down to one thing: We’re all the same.”

While her YouTube material is a constant source of entertainment, it is not the most important thing in her career at the moment. You’re Grand: The Irish Woman’s Secret Guide to Life is her first book, and is released next month. It’s a “tongue-in-cheek” self-help book she explains. “It’s the fact that Irish women are very, very wise, and how we haven’t shared that wisdom a lot. We’ve been told to be quiet for a lot of the time. The frame I have for it is other life guides like The Secret will tell you that you can manifest all your desires, but Irish women know that you can’t. So what we do know is that you’ll be grand, even if things turn out bad, and they will, but you’ll still be grand.”

Flynn is keen to stress that it’s not all about women. “There’s a nice little section about Irish men, because they’re feckin great, and you don’t make any strides without allies, and if we didn’t have the amazing male allies that we’ve had, especially recently, we’d still be in the kitchen” She laughs.

And while Tara has turned to writing, she is still very much an actress. Her recent spate of shows across Dublin with Geraldine Aron’s My Brilliant Divorce were a resounding success. Her performance was often hilarious, and sometimes heartbreaking. “It’s a comedy, and she very much wrote it as a comedy” Flynn explains. She continues “It’s very hopeful, but it is also about one of the most heartbreaking things that can happen outside of a death, and people go through it all the time, and to go through it at sort of early middle age is really terrifying for people.”

She also hopes to have more dramatic roles in the future. “There’s another one woman play, not written by me, that somebody sent me, and I would love to tackle that”. She says “It’s very dramatic and very not comedic, very different ball game to My Brilliant Divorce, and very different subject matter. But that’s something I would love to do.”

It’s clear that Flynn’s career will continue in the steady trajectory that it deserves. Incredibly talented and charismatic, Flynn will undoubtedly continue to make an impact on not only Ireland, but on the world as a performer at the helm of the fight for equality through comedy, writing and acting.

You’re Grand: The Irish Woman’s Secret Guide to Life will be released by Hachette in October 2014.