Wealth and fame haven’t yet been bestowed on young Irish comedian Cormac Friel. But the high quality of his writing and his whip-smart performance in
This is the stand-up comedy equivalent of going down the mines, but it’s a good bet Cormac Friel is pretty close to striking gold.
The kid’s got what it takes. Heaps of it. And his hilarious little show has a message beyond the typical me-me-me monologue so many comedians his age deliver. Friel hits some trenchant you-you-you points, imparting words to the unwise from someone with wisdom beyond his years.
Like how Generation X, who are the parents and teachers of Friel’s fellow Millennials, filled kids’ heads with empty promises. Overloaded with self-esteem but with nary a clue about much else, Friel says he grew up being told that 'all we had to do is believe in ourselves' and success would magically happen. Friel says he was sure he would be the next Daniel Day-Lewis or Leonardo DiCaprio. He auditioned for a Harry Potter movie against 8,000 other boys (didn’t get the part) and rewrote his Academy Award acceptance speech 18 times, the last draft beginning: 'Oh my god, I haven't even prepared a speech. I haven't even dreamed of this. I'm just a country boy from rural Ireland that wanted to make people happy.' He drafted another speech for his second Oscar, this time being sure to thank Meryl Streep.
Didn’t occur to him till his 20s, he says, that he might need more acting training than the hourly 'elocution' lessons he got from a drama teacher back in County Donegal. That class, he recalls in his show, 'digressed to mime.' The teacher had them miming digging holes and painting rooms, 'because the expectations weren’t high' for achieving much beyond hourly labour where he grew up.
Friel went to college and studied sensible subjects like maths and chemistry, but his Hollywood fantasy continued to percolate. Then came a life-changing four-day trip to Los Angeles, where, Friel says, he was sure he’d be instantly cast in a feature film simply by showing off his handsome face and 'symmetrical bowlegs.' Or maybe by sleeping with a casting director.
Being on the receiving end of insults by a blasé waitress in a Rodeo Drive pancake house slapped sense into him. That was his turning point, and from that came his focus on comedy. The show also takes short hops into other stories from Friel’s life, including the time he reduced a boyfriend to tears 'because he purchased a baguette.' He has a great ear for the funny-sounding word to button up a line.
Growing up on a steady infusion of overly positive memes on social media has made Millennials stupid and narcissistic, says Friel. He has news for peers who might be harbouring outsized ideas of superstardom. Give up your dream, he says. 'Nowadays, we have so many people who assumed all their dreams would come true and are now finding reality extremely unfulfilling.'
Smart guy. It helps to know that real success takes hard work, like the reality of doing 20-plus nights in a damp wee cave three flights above a rubbish-strewn alleyway in Edinburgh. It’s the stand-up comedy equivalent of going down the mines. But it’s a good bet that Cormac Friel is pretty close to striking gold.