By: Adam Rafferty
When Joanne McNally swaggers out onto the Athenaeum Theatre stage, you’d be forgiven for thinking she was a rock star. A stadium full of Harry Styles fans would seem meek and disinterested by comparison to the wild and raucous gaggle that screamed down the roof at McNally’s opening night. The Irish comedian would love to think it’s because she’s an international celebrity, but a quick survey of her crowd swiftly confirmed that her fanbase is made up vastly by ex-pat Irish girls and “girly guys” as she puts it.
I must confess that prior to the festival I’d never heard of McNally, but she clearly has a devoted audience who, according to my sources, fell in love with her via My Therapist Ghosted Me. A podcast that she’s produced with the Irish model and media personality Vogue Williams over the last two years, where the pair of friends have gathered a following through their frank and funny tales of life’s trials and tribulations. For McNally, a lot of that has been centred on life as a single woman, riding “the prosecco express” around her girlfriends’ celebrations of engagement, marriage, babies and the like. Put it simply, she is super relatable to any single ladies under 40, and the married ones who remember what it was like.
Tales of sexual encounters with younger men, having to move back home during the pandemic, her mother’s delight in the death notices, and where she likes a man’s eyes to focus when they’re in flagrante delicto, are all told with unbridled and hilarious honesty. No one could accuse her of being shy or demur, but somehow through the amplified expletives, McNally endears herself to the crowd.
It’s because she knows her fans so well. A simply delivered “girls, girls” seems to calm the tanked-up crowd as they busily chatter amongst themselves, and McNally barely loses stride as she confidently delivers a routine that’s riotous fun. So, if you’re an Irish girl (or girly guy), or even an Aussie, a Kiwi or any kind of Brit, you’re gonna have a whale of a time on the prosecco express, just don’t invite any Brazilian friends!