The Origins Of Ouch!

Ahead of his Whale show on Friday, April 21st, Stephen Mullan digs dep for his comedic roots…

My father was a preacher, so as a boy it was completely normal to me to be standing in front of an audience/ congregation, performing or sharing thoughts.

There is a story of my dad and the other church leaders out the back before a Sunday service, praying, when inside there heard ranting through the PA system. They ran in to find 3-year-old me on the pulpit delivering a passionate sermon. I had pulled a high stool across and climbed up to herd the flock!

I don’t think I knew what standup comedy was growing up, I do remember aunts and uncles talking about a man called Billy Connolly. I just knew he was a funny man.

My humour comes from my mother, my sophistry from my father, who is a great thinker. I grew up in a home with different sounds all the time. My mother is Argentinean and it is definitely a big part of how I express myself. My parents argued in Spanish.

My mother was a wonderful singer too. We would have people come and stay with us from time to time from all over the world – different accents, different music all the time – all while living in a council estate in Cork that was full of energy; crazy good and not always so good.

I was always the outsider which always gave me a different angle on the world. I could see things others couldn’t. Between that and all the sounds around me, I would make the adults laugh a lot.

Even the teachers. Some teachers would get me to impersonate other teachers. My mother did the same thing in her schools in 1960s Buenos Aires.

I left school early, it was boring once we had won all the sports medals. I was a sports nut growing up.

I won Leinster medals in hurling, I played League of Ireland football at U21 level, while I worked as an apprentice carpenter as a day job. Football got boring so I started a band, I wrote songs and sang them. That ended, I left the building sites, I got picked up as an actor and toured Ireland with the Druid Theatre Company.

A year later they asked me to act in a comedy film. To me it was easy. It was the first time I thought about doing anything with comedy and I was halfway through my 20s.

Then I moved to London, ended up cooking in a Michelin star restaurant. I went home for a weekend for my mother’s 60th, I read out a funny speech and remembered my uncle wiping tears from his eyes as he laughed.

I thought, ‘That felt good’, went back to London and started open mic.

Two years later, I performed my first hour show, Son Of A Preacher Man,  in the Dublin Fringe Festival.

I’ve been doing it ever since…


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