In Interview: Jonny B

In Interview: Jonny B

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by Danielle Holian

How and when did you get into comedy?

I had always been a bit of a joker growing up, and not for telling jokes but for telling the exaggerated stories, speaking a mile a minute with the hands going everywhere! However, it was when I started acting and musical theatre at 16 that I realized I loved to make people laugh and it was those parts I felt most comfortable doing.

Who or what are your influences?

I absolutely love Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids) she’s exactly my kind of humor and people from Ireland would be Graham Norton, Brendan O’Carroll (Mrs Brown) and Maeve Higgins. They all have very natural ways of making people laugh that seem so effortless! It’s not necessarily what they say it’s how they say it. They could say  “I like bread” and it would be hilarious.

What is your favourite joke?

Oh dear, when it comes to punchline jokes  I am terrible. “My father was a night time watchman, but unfortunately, he was victim of technology. He was replaced by a lock.” Clearly not my strong point! *monkey face*

How has previously being heavily involved with stage and musical theatre helped you and your performances?

I feel performing live on stage in musical theatre or shows really help you see what makes people giggle, how long to pause, what faces to pull and find your comic timing. As well as that, it gives you a confidence to just trust your gut because when you are doing live theatre anything can go wrong and you have to react instantly. In a way doing videos online can be easier because you can edit it the way you like, create the pauses and do loads of funny things with voice clips. But overall being on stage has helped me lose my inhibitions, be a bit more tough-skinned and get lost in a character, so when I put silly clips online I see them as characters and sketches, so if I ever get negative comments it’s as if they are insulting “Geraldine” and not me. Thankfully people see it as a joke and haven’t ever been too mean.

What inspired you to create Cork based characters Jonny B and Geraldine McAleese?

I started doing clips mid-2013 on Vine but started my Facebook page at the start of 2014. I did this because I had just moved to Dublin and had to leave my old performing arts school behind. I went to CADA performing arts growing up. By creating this character it kept my hobby going in a new way. I originally made a clip about “Life in Cork” and pretended to be a girl so used a towel as my hair. I later tweeted Graham Norton the clip and he tweeted back saying he really enjoyed it and that I should set up a character and with that Geraldine McAleese, and her towel hair, was born. I picked the name because I thought Geraldine sounded great in a cork accent and McAleese had a nice ring to it – as well as being our past Presidents name! I later started to do more stuff as myself “Jonny.” In saying that, the Jonny on camera is a lot more camp and flamboyant but its all for fun and pretty much what I am like with a few drinks in me anyway!

How has the internet helped you?

The rise in Facebook video and YouTubers over the past few years is amazing and the internet is such a great platform to put yourself out there. Especially If you love to perform and but have stage fright. Doing it online helps you see what works and what doesn’t work through the likes, comments and tools Facebook/Youtuber provide. You also get to interact with everyone which is such a plus and why it’s so different to stage. Engaging with people who follow you is so nice because you can show people you’re only having a bit of fun and you can take their input on board for ideas etc.

What is your favourite sketch, and why?

I love the bit in Bridesmaids where she takes the relaxers on the plane because she is alone in economy class, while the rest of the party are in First. She mixes with alcohol which isn’t a good idea and because of it, she’s all over the place and stumbles up to first class making a complete fool of herself and gets arrested. Everything, from even the way she turns her head, is hilarious. Kristen Wiig went to an improvisation school and I bet a lot of those scenes were just her acting on the spot and it works perfectly. That is exactly what I do when making clips, I don’t follow a script I just have an idea in mind and go with my gut.

What do you hope to achieve with comedy in the near future?

I am actually just in the middle of a Masters in Public Relations so when I have more time on my hands I want to do more regular clips, and grow the channel more by having more characters. It really is a hobby for me so would like to still work on my career while doing these videos in my spare time. I know a lot of people make a living out of this and that is fantastic but I would still need my 9-5 to keep me motivated. I would love to try stand-up comedy sometimes too because I love live theatre already so it would be interesting to see how it would go down. I get such a buzz when I perform or upload a clip and if it even makes 10 people smile then that makes me really happy!