Gráinne Maguire: 'I'm so shocked that I haven't fallen into a cult because I am prime material: gullible and a people pleaser'
- Jay Richardson
- 11 March 2019
Irish comic delves once more into her problematic personality for a new show
Gráinne Maguire has a theory as to why the relatively modest town of Navan in Ireland is such a fertile breeding ground for great comedy, being the birthplace of Dylan Moran, Tommy Tiernan and Father Ted co-creator Arthur Mathews among others. 'As the crow flies, we're quite near Sellafield,' she suggests. 'And we've a huge mine in the town, Tara Mine, which is lead and zinc. So I think we're being slowly, mentally poisoned. Like really shit X-Men.'
Less libellously, the London-based stand-up pays tribute to her former drama teacher Richie Ball, a playwright who 'was a sort of mentor to Dylan and Tommy. He's an amazing person, always mentioning Tommy. And it feels special. Like I'm part of his gang.'
Combining forthright opinions and massive insecurity, Maguire's stand-up is characterised by her idealism, sharply informed political views and a messy, catastrophic personal life. 'I know. I'm like Mary Poppins; I just go where I'm needed,' the former primary school receptionist sighs. A staunch Labour member, her weakness for a right-wing bad boy has become a recurring trope, from last year's Edinburgh Fringe show I Forgive You: Please Like Me, right back to her earliest stand-up performances and first festival in 2007, which she kept secret from her loved ones. 'Telling your family that you want to be a stand-up comedian is like saying you want to be a supermodel: so embarrassing,' she explains. 'So I held off for as long as possible.'
Despite a well-regarded podcast, Changing Politics, which advocates practical ways to advance democracy, her Question Time and Panorama appearances, countless Radio 4 credits and her work as a tutor with aspiring comedy writers, Maguire has also dabbled with clowning: 'every comedian's midlife crisis'. Famed clown guru Philippe Gaulier hated her, she laughs. 'He wouldn't let me do any of the exercises. Anytime I opened my mouth he was like "urgghh, you want it too much; it's horrible". Just like every boyfriend I've ever had. It's not like I haven't heard it before.'