My Comedy Hero: Aisling Bea on Katherine Ryan and Sara Pascoe
The Irish comic shares memories of two pals and inspirations
Some people admire the aspirational rock star figures whose biopics make it to TV, the people they watched as kids and made them want to play football for England.
For some comics, it is often the Doug Stanhopes and the Joan Rivers. It’s not to say I don’t learn lots from watching their work, but personally, my favourite comedians are many of my peers, the people who I see struggle through bits of material they can sense a funny gem glistening in and then I gig with them four months later and see what they’ve turned that into.
I’ve been an actor for a long time and when I started stand-up a few years ago, it was, and still is, a daunting prospect to put myself out there, to have to go back to relearn the basics of a new skill. Katherine Ryan and Sara Pascoe were two comics I watched as I started. Their work ethic and approach made and still makes me want to be better.
They feel like representatives for me, of my generation, my gender and the ones I want to watch, listen to and seek out. I want to be them when I grow up. They also make me laugh like a baby in a Cow & Gate advert. They are individual, unique comics, very different, but sharing the ability to be funny as fuck and delve unapologetically into the darkness of their own lives for stories.
I once saw Katherine bring the house down at quite a safe, middle-class gig I was hosting with a story about an abortion clinic that was some of the best stand-up I have ever seen. I saw Sara pull an audience in close enough to kiss with next level honest, funny stand-up that was, at that stage, still only newish material. It was exciting to watch.
It also helps that they are also two of the kindest bros in town, who help others do great work. I’d be a lesser comedian for all the amount that I am without them.
As told to Brian Donaldson