Wonder Women: Tara Flynn
In the world of comedy, Tara Flynn is a force to be reckoned with. Having moved to Dublin to pursue her acting dream, she fell into comedy almost by chance and a star was born. For Tara, making waves in the comedy world was never enough. She had aspirations to do great things and set about making it happen. Releasing her first book earlier this year, she took the first steps into the world of literature. With her second book due out soon, I think it’s fair to say she can now add fully fledged author to her vast array of talents. I had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Tara recently about her beginnings in the world of entertainment, her thoughts on the comedy scene and lots more besides.
Hi Tara, thanks for talking to us. Firstly if I was to ask you to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Questioning, worried, tired.
When you were young, what did you want to be?
I wanted to be a vet. I lived in the countryside and we had all kind of animals: hens, a goat, cats, loads of dogs down through the years, a horse, a donkey, three cows…they were all great craic and I hated the idea of anything bad happening to them. I still maintain that if I win the lottery, I’ll get an animal-lady ranch somewhere and fill it up, like those incredible old Hollywood broads. At the moment, I have a cat and a new puppy, which is plenty of poop to be getting on with.
You’ve been around the entertainment circuit for quite a while now, what first drew you into the world of comedy and entertainment?
I moved to Dublin (from Kinsale) to be an actor. I then got interested in other areas – largely because I wanted to keep moving and not wait for the phone to ring. I was a loyal comedy audient: I went to the Cellar practically every week and turned up at Dublin Comedy Improv so much I often ended up doing the door for them. I’ve been playing with them onstage for about a hundred years now. I knew Anne Gildea and Sue Collins from the Cellar and one night at a party, we started messing about making up songs and The Nualas were born. Since then, I’ve been seen as a comedian, although I haven’t turned my back on acting. I just tend to get sent ‘funny’ parts now.
Has your perception of the entertainment industry changed since you first entered it?
Not really. I wasn’t naïve about it going in. I knew it’d be a lot of hard work and plenty of even harder, stressful,work-free periods ironically known as ‘resting’. I’m not able to sleep when I’m resting. I never feel like I have it figured out, either. It keeps changing and you have to, too. Making your own work and being seen now is easier than ever, though. The internet is huge and you never know who’s watching.
You are a comedy improviser amongst other things, how do you think Ireland fares with regards to improv compared to the rest of the world?
In Ireland and Britain, improv is a bit of a poor relation to stand-up comedy, which is a shame because it’s usually groups of creative, funny people who play nicely with others. Long form isn’t well known here, and comedy audiences tend to expect punch so we still do short form on Monday nights. It means shorter scenes/games but plenty of jokes per minute, which suits our audience and venue. We’ve done long form shows over the years and some of us are involved in The Cardinals (a fantastic new long form group) but short form tends to be what comedy club audiences here know and love. Long form is a harder sell, which is a shame because it’s more akin to improvised theatre and is really exciting. In the US, improvisers are prized. Here, the attitude tends to be “Oh, isn’t that those parlour games?” Which it isn’t. At all.
What are your thoughts on the rising popularity of Irish comedians both here and abroad?
We’ve been rising for nearly 30 years now. Like the ‘Brit invasion’ of Hollywood. I hope we finally crack that shit sometime.
You spoke about the internet bring huge earlier, a lot of people will know you from your various online videos, how hard is it to make an impact online, in your opinion?
Very. There’s a lot of white noise now everyone can film stuff on their phone. That’s no bad thing – it just means it’s impossible to reckon what will take off and what won’t. You can’t really be cynical and plotting: it’s not up to you. The audience decides what’s worth sharing. I kind of like that. So my advice (to myself, most of all) is to make something you really like and believe in. That way you’re satisfied whether it’s 200,000 views or 200 – which is more likely. When people ask me “how do you make a video go viral?” I say, “make something with Miley Cyrus and a basket of kittens.”
Let’s talk about the books. You recently had one published, with another one due out in a few weeks, can you tell us a bit out your writing process?
Slog. Long hard slog. It’s very enjoyable but without the discipline part, books don’t appear. I have notebooks going all the time with ideas, structure, jokes, thoughts. Then I stick the ones I think are strongest up on a whiteboard and look at it for weeks, crying. Then I stop crying, set my alarm every day and get up and write and write until draft one is done. More crying. Perhaps a burning of draft one. Then I pull myself together and shape the ashes into draft two. About another draft later, I send it in to the publisher, get the editor’s notes, lather, rinse, repeat for another few drafts. And coffee. There has to be coffee.
What can you tell us about the new book?
It’s about the things we give out about in this country. Some of them serious, some lighter. But it’s about the things that if you switch on talk radio or open a newspaper or blog you’re most likely to hear or see someone ranting repeatedly about. With jokes, hopefully.
With the many talents you have and all the avenues of entertainment you are involved in, what’s your favourite thing to do?
Improv is my favourite thing to do onstage. I love acting for TV – be it comedy or not. Writing is brilliant but there’s a lot of crying.
Finally, where do you see yourself both personally and professionally in five years time?
Hopefully less worried, better rested and with the answers to a few more questions under my belt.
Tara’s new book giving out yards is out on October 15th, with the official launch taking place in the Gutter Book Shop on October 21st from 6.30pm.