The unlikely duo proved a hit for funny man, best selling author and broadcaster Colm O’Regan, who says, “A happy accident would be the best way to sum it up.”
In a quiet hotel bar off the bustling streets of Dublin, Colm O'Regan, who grew up in the remote Co. Cork village of Dripsey talks Twitter, award ceremonies, the second book and what his own Mammy thinks about it all.
So how did ‘The Irish Mammy’ end up with a Twitter account?
“I wasn’t starting it to create a phenomenon or anything," Colm says. "I actually wanted to create screen shots to make it look like an Irish Mammy had a Twitter account. I set it up to make it look good. People started to follow far faster than me, the real person. I figured I was on to something.”
112,000 followers later, he notes: “It grew gradually. It grows roughly by the same amount every day, 100 or so.”
A hit with people of every gender, age and background, I asked him why he believes this character resonates with so many.
“Like all generic characters it’s not going to cover everything," he says. "Not everybody is going to identify with it but there was something about the way people were responding to the individual things that seemed to give insight into the fact that everybody’s domestic life is similar. We all think our families are unique but as it turns out there is lots of things that unify us, that then gave me the notion to write about this kind of character, this everywoman but not every woman.”
There won't be any 'surprises' at this parent-teacher meeting now, will there? ... Well?— irishmammies (@irishmammies) November 18, 2013
‘The Irish Mammy’ has become a snapshot of Irish culture at its best, will she always be the same?
“The way we speak English will be the same but the subjects will change. Maybe it won't rain as much in the future, global warming might mean we won't be as paranoid about scattered showers,” Colm says jokingly.
He adds: “10% of the population were born outside Ireland, there will be a nice mixture as they take on how we speak English here and they’ll bring there own stuff to it as well. As long as we’re on this island, there are certain things that will stay the same, preserved as nostalgia in emigrant communities as well.”
The Irish Mammies Twitter is a comforting and funny example of how the new world of social media and traditional custom can work together.
It was so cold this morning, I made him wear TWO underpantses. He's glad of them now I'd say.— irishmammies (@irishmammies) November 19, 2013
Describing Twitter as a “time suck”, that he has used more so since the books he says:
“It’s good in my business as you read and keep up to date with newspapers from all over the world. I hadn’t caught on to the discipline to use it to write things that became the genus of ideas later on. You have to choose your words so carefully by the end of it you’re left with the only words that could fit into that place. As a comedian, the sound of something is very important so you can kind of put words together, hear how they sound if they were told in a joke and they make good tweets as well.”
He adds: “Twitter is the perfect platform to be really funny and bring a few laughs to people’s day.”
There is no doubt that social media and Twitter in particular have become essential tools in gaining popularity. Colm asserts:
“You can’t force people to like you. All you can do is put stuff out there and hope people will like it. There has to be some kind of consistent personality whether a human being or a company”. He describes a Twitter ‘fail’ as “some people who are funny on stage and dull on Twitter, actors who put up where you can see them next and have no opinion. For me, be a person; don’t put up constant stream of links to your shows”.
Colm says he’s been very lucky when it comes to negative comments on Twitter: “Irish mammies gets nothing, absolutely nothing. I expect it, but she gets no abuse.”
Colm believes “Twitter arguments to be one of the biggest wastes of time ever because you can’t actually get across your point. What little I do get, I don’t even engage with it at all, unless it’s constructive criticism. I will generally reply to that, it diffuses it and it changes their mood, you never know, they might go to my next show,” he smiles.
“There was no compulsion,” he says, in evolving the Twitter account into a book and then a live show: “In January 2012, I thought there might be an idea in it for the book. I did the live show as a once off to test material for the book. A couple of hundred people went to it, probably the biggest crowd I had ever attracted on my own. That was in Killkenny at the Cat Laughs in 2012.” Evidently a hit, audience numbers have been increasing ever since.
C'mon now pet, five more spoonfuls and you can have your yoghurt.— irishmammies (@irishmammies) November 16, 2013
Colm says it was great to have been nominated for an Irish Book Award: “It showed the book wasn’t crap and was a nice night out. When I didn’t win I was furious,” he laughs. He advises: “Not to get sucked into the award ceremony thing. If I don’t win, I’m disappointed but it’s fine, it’s always a good sign to be up for it. You can’t measure too much of your self worth on getting them or not.”
Did you know there would be a second book? “I had an inkling, there were a few things I hadn’t done in the first book. Being on Twitter and Facebook all the time, I get so distracted. Once you take away all the distractions, stuff flows. I was very happy there was more stuff. I want to write more books about other things. I don’t know what they’re going to be yet but I’m more confident now.”
The second book That’s More Of It Now was forth in the hardback non-fiction bestsellers list after only it’s first week on the shelves. “It’s better book,” Colm admits. “Most of it is as good and some bits are better than the first therefore I would be hopeful that it will do as well.”
Colm has stood up and made people laugh all over the world, but what does his own Mammy have to say about it all. Colm’s mother who is to be credited for the early parts of the Twitter account and chunks of the books “gets a kick out of it” according to her son.
“Everyone likes to see themselves being commemorated in someway," he says. "Neighbours were buying the book and saying they read it and liked it so she always gets a kick out of that.”
So what’s next for Colm? On a final note, he concluded:“I’m not sure if there is a third book in it or not. If there is I will write it, if there isn’t I won't. I’m thinking all the time. There are no plans yet so I can’t reveal anything. It would be premature to speculate.”'That's More Of It Now: The Second Book of Irish Mammies' by Colm O'Regan is out now.
You can follow The Irish Mammy on Twitter here: @irishmammies.
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