Olivia Powell looks at Pop the Cherry Comedy night held weekly in Whelan's.
The comedy scene in Dublin has been extremely quiet in recent years. The performers have more of an appetite and demand for comedy than audiences. However, stand-up comedy is still around Dublin, you just have to look for it. For example, The Laughter Lounge and pubs such as The Stags Head and The Ha’Penny Bridge Inn host a comedy night every week to discover Ireland’s wannabe stand-ups.
Pop the Cherry Comedy hosts a stand-up comedy night in the iconic music venue Whelan’s every Monday. Founded in DCU, Pop the Cherry has hosted its weekly comedy night at the venue since 2015. Niall Farrell and Duane Doogan, both comedians and founders of Pop the Cherry comedy, share the MC slot.
About its origins, Doogan said: “We asked to do more comedy gigs in the college and they said that they couldn’t and jokingly said just put on one yourself.” The guys came up with a Pop Your Comedy Cherry Night where fifteen students were on the bill, and of course, they were all popping their comedy cherry. “We packed into this small room in DCU where you could fit maybe 200 people and 200 people showed up.” Doogan confirmed that around five of the people from that first night are still performing stand-up.
Pop the Cherry has 250 comedians looking for a spot at their well-known show in Whelan’s. The organisation has seven comedians on the bill each week but they make sure at least one of these comedians is popping their stand-up cherry. The comedians are mostly from the Dublin comedy scene and some are students. With regards to the ‘newbies’ Farrell said: “We don’t judge anyone, we let the audience judge them.”
The Irish comedy scene was easily at its highest standard back in the nineties. However, Doogan admits that the comedy scene is no doubt growing and said: “The [number] of comedians is bigger than it’s ever been and because of that you are going to get a bigger [number] of good and strong acts.”
With regards to the ratio between male and female comedians, Doogan and Farrell both admitted there is a strong imbalance; Farrell said “here’s generally more male comedians”. Out of the 250 aforementioned comedians, Doogan estimated that only 50 of these are female. However, they aim to have at least one female comedian on the bill every week. Back in February, Pop the Cherry hosted an all-female comedy night and both admitted that it was the best quality show they’ve had.