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Cork Independent

Cork Profile

Paul Marsh, comedian and firefighter

Wednesday, 1st May, 2019 4:42pm

When you were small, what did you want to be as a grown-up?

Always wanted to be a comedian. I did my first stand-up routine to a couple of hundred people in our local hall when I was 11. I was hooked after that.

Tell us about your career progression to your role today:

I spent my teen years in pantomimes and Tops of the Town competitions and when I moved to Dublin at the age of 19, I tried doing stand-up in a comedy club. It didn’t go well and after only two goes, I gave up. I continued to do pantomimes and worked as a children’s entertainer, until 20 years later I tried stand up again. It went way better this time, and six months in, I won Ireland’s biggest newcomer competition. This helped me move up through the ranks fast and become a regular at all the clubs and festivals in Ireland.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you do?

You write loads and only some of it works, and you can never really tell for certain what will. So when you try out a new bit on stage and the audience like it, you are on a high for days! When something you wrote makes people laugh is the best feeling in the world.

What motivates you?

Watching comedians you admire and hoping you’ll get to their level some day. It’s the kind of job that you will never perfect. You are always trying to be better and better.

What advice would you give your 15 year old self?

I only realised what anxiety was late in life and it held me back from doing loads of stuff for years. Once I realised what it was, I worked at dealing with it and getting past it. I love that the youth of today are so open about mental health. Anxiety is one of the best tools a comedian has. While you’re busy overthinking everything, you notice the funny stuff.

If you weren’t in the job you have, what would you be doing?

A radio DJ. Every comedian would love to be a radio DJ, because when we do comedy clubs, we are given 15 or 20 minutes, but the thoughts of having hours to talk really appeals to us.

What is your greatest life or career achievement to-date?

When we had our son. Up until then I thought I had the best two jobs in the world, but being a dad trumps them all!

Who has had the biggest influence on you in your life?

My wife. She convinced me to try stand-up again, encouraged me along the way and, most of all, she’s the source (and co-writer) of most of the material.

What is the life dream now?

To do stand-up for a living - not 3Arena level, just enough to pay the mortgage.

How do you switch off?

Playing with my son. You can’t focus on anything else when you are with a three year old. He’s hyper in the best way!

What is your favourite Cork memory?

A scorching Saturday about 15 years ago, on a good friend’s stag. We hung out on Sullivan’s Quay all day, even before it was as popular as it is now. He was the first one of our ‘gang’ to get married and then we all fell like dominos.

What is your favourite place in Cork?

Fota Island. We camped there with the scouts back in the ‘80s (I broke my leg) and I’ve visited and stayed there loads of times since. I know it like the back of my hand.

Do you have a favourite quote or motto?

“You’re the only people alive on the earth today. All those people who created traditions, created countries and created rules…they are dead. Why don’t you start your own world while you’ve got the chance?” - Bill Hicks.

When are you at your happiest?

In a car with a bunch of comedians heading to a gig. The anticipation of the show has everyone hyped up to the max, which leads to the funniest conversations.

What is your hidden talent?

Table quizzes. I’ve been hosting them for years, but I’m full of useless information. If you’re ever on ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’, put me down as your ‘phone a friend’.

Any regrets?

That I didn’t stick with it the first time.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

I’ve delivered 17 babies to date. I’m a paramedic as well as being a firefighter with Dublin Fire Brigade for the last 21 years. Combine that with buying a house last year and I’ve completed three of the most stressful things known to man. Take that anxiety!

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I salute magpies and I hate that about myself.

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