First Published November 2022
THE PRACTISE OF GRATITUDE
To me, the way DEIRDRE O’ KANE began her comedy career, the fact that she took on the challenge of Dancing With The Stars with so much success back in 2018, and the fact that she’s also filled almost every possible role on tv – from show host, interviewer, and even as a judge on Virgin Media One’s ill-fated The Big Deal – not to mention her many acting achievements, all of those things indicate a certain fearlessness and self-confidence in her character. And definitely an apparent disdain for anything resembling a ‘comfort-zone’! But even allowing for that glittering roll-call of career milestones, I wondered if there are still some new challenges out there that haven’t come her way yet, but in the back of her mind, she’s like, “Yeah, I’d give that a go…”?
“I still think the hosting of the chat show, the hosting on telly, is a big challenge to me. Because I’ve only done it once, and that was ‘Deirdre O’ Kane Talks Funny’, where I was interviewing the comics. When you’re doing something for the first time, you’re out of your comfort-zone. Even if it’s considered to be within the realms of your experience, it’s still new to you. So, I’d like to do it again, and I hope I’m given the opportunity to do it again, because I feel I didn’t get the chance to explore that. And I’d like to. I think I’d be good at it. But I don’t know [laughs]. I’d have to be given a shot.”
Was the fact that she was interviewing fellow comedians – looking back on it – perhaps a little bit restraining on Deirdre in any way?
“No, no, I think quite the opposite. I mean, comics are not an easy interviewee. They’re easily bored. And what I liked about it was I knew what not to ask them because I’m so used to being sick of being asked the same questions myself. So that was good. And they’re fascinating people. Comics are not dull. They usually have a lot going on, and some other qualifications, and interesting backgrounds. So for me, with that show, I saw it almost like a ‘This Is Your Life’, where you’re celebrating what they’ve done, and their work. Which is something I don’t think we do a lot of in Ireland, I have to say. We ship people abroad to be applauded. We don’t really do it here, which I think is shocking!”
We had mentioned the fact that Deirdre has been a judge on The Big Deal in 2021. That was a massive project, with a huge fanfare around it, but it never came close to seeing the potential of the idea transform into reality. What was the experience like of being involved in a show of that scale?
“Yeah, again, that took me totally out of the comfort-zone. And I do tend to find myself in these situations a lot! I really wish that would end [laughs]. I’ve had enough! [Laughs]. I enjoyed it a lot. Anything that’s new gives you energy. It might be nervous energy, and your adrenaline might be off the charts, and you might be full of fear and going, ‘I don’t know if I’m going to be any good at this’, but… at least it’s new! That’s the reason I was never able to stick with one job, I’m very easily bored. And I was curious to see if I’d be any good at it. I felt very qualified, because I’m in the business an awful long time. I’m also enthusiastic for people who are starting. I kinda love new talent. I love young comics. I just like talent, full-stop. So I was never going to be the kinda judge who was out to put people down, but I could dismiss people with no talent fairly easily. But I like rooting for people. That was the quality in me that made me think, ‘I’ll enjoy this, and I’ll be genuinely enthusiastic about those people coming out on stage’. You’re willing them – you’re willing them – to be good!”
Does Deirdre have a hero in her life?
“The people who do charity work who don’t have to do it. Like Richard Curtis and Emma Freud who started Comic Relief in the UK. And partly it was their influence why I got involved in starting it here. They don’t have to do that. But they HAVE done it for thirty years. I’ve done three ‘live’ shows and one on telly, and the work – the hundreds of hours of work – I mean, you talk about out of your comfort-zone. Asking people for favors is the most difficult thing in the world. So anybody, to be honest with ya…but Richard Curtis and Emma Freud in particular, having done it for thirty years. But I just actually admire anyone who says, ‘Ya know what? I’m gonna throw a ball, or put on an event…’, because it’s a sh*tload of work! And you have to ask people for favors…But it’s the doing of it. The alternative is to do nothing. That’s the alternative. It’s the people who do it, I just have endless admiration for them, I really do. At the end of the Comic Relief Teleton I was so wrecked, I was thinking, ‘How did I get myself into this?!’ I could have spent three months writing jokes! [Laughs]. But instead, I was doing unpaid work for a massive charity event that I was very, very passionate about, and it paid off. But the reality is that the hours, and the asking of favors, is hard. So I have a new-found respect for all of those people, the people who do the fund-raising. I think they’re my heroes, yeah.”
And finally, I wondered if there had been any one piece of advice that might have come her way at some stage, and proven to be a trusty companion through life?
“I don’t think there’s one piece. I do an awful lot of spiritual reading, shutting down my mind, meditating. That’s probably one of the best things that’s happened to me. And maybe, I think, the practise of gratitude works. One friend, we’d often be like, ‘What are ya reading now?’, ya know [laughs], ‘How are ya fixing yourself now?’ [laughs]. He said to me once, at the end of the day, when I boil it all down – all the highfalutin ideas and all the rest of it – it’s the practise of gratitude that I actually think works the best. And I agree with him. I agree with him. If you can keep doing it, things tend to go right. But we lapse. And because we lapse, that’s probably why I nearly always have one of those books to hand, to remind myself to do it. DO IT! It’s amazing, and it really only requires ten minutes to just stop your head and just do it. But when you do, it’s extraordinary, and you can get in a flow and things just go your way. It’s great, and it’s not hard. Why can we not just stick to it? [Laughs].”
~ DEMENTED, the new show from DEIRDRE O’ KANE, comes to the TULLAMORE COURT HOTEL on NOVEMBER 11th. Tickets ON-SALE NOW from Ticketstop.ie