Most comedy performers can pinpoint their own Eureka moment, the epiphany that propelled them into their chosen profession. For Fred Cooke, a Kells man who combines laconic one-liners and shaggy dog tales with madcap musical skits, one such moment was seeing Tommy Tiernan live in the Ardboyne Hotel in Navan.

Published 14/04/2015 | 00:00

Comedian Fred Cooke.
Comedian Fred Cooke.

Most comedy performers can pinpoint their own Eureka moment, the epiphany that propelled them into their chosen profession. For Fred Cooke, a Kells man who combines laconic one-liners and shaggy dog tales with madcap musical skits, one such moment was seeing Tommy Tiernan live in the Ardboyne Hotel in Navan.

"From the second he jumped up on stage to the second he left, his gig was incredible," Fred recalls. "A relentless hour and twenty minutes of hilarious material."

From there it was a short step to his own first comedy gig, supporting fellow Jestfester Joe Rooney in the Student Bar in UCD.

"I didn't take it seriously back then," he confesses. "It was more of a box-ticker that I needed to do. I wasn't that nervous: an ex of mine had supplied me with shots an hour before taking to the stage. Looking back at that open-spot slot, I was lucky to have local Kells support there on the night. I didn't return to stand up until three years later."

He soon made up for lost time, logging high-profile gigs with Ross Noble, Neil Delamere and Des Bishop, as well as appearing on RTE's Republic of Telly, Watch Your Language and The Savage Eye. Asked to select a highlight of his career so far, Fred cites supporting Ardal O'Hanlon on a recent Irish tour.

Mr Cooke, it should be pointed out, also cut his teeth as a warm-up man for TV shows such as The Late Late and The Podge and Rodge Show. You might also know his face from a series of Spar ads. The major difference between stage and television work, he maintains, is room for spontaneity.

"You have more freedom on stage," he says. "You can edit, develop, or completely get rid of sections of your stand-up show. It's harder to do that on TV when you have a director and producer. With TV you can't take anything for granted, everything has to be explained so everyone on set knows where he or she stands.'

As for his upcoming slew of dates at the Wexford Jestfest, Fred says: "Every single gig I do is different. One thing you can be sure of is musical mayhem. I can't wait to get back to Wexford."

Fred Cooke plays the Vine Restaurant with Niamh Marron on Friday, May 1, 10.30pm; Greenacres with Al Porter and Karl Spain, Saturday, May 2, at 7.30pm; Mackens with Al Porter, Saturday, May 2, at 10.30pm; The Talbot Hotel Closing Gala with Al Porter, Sunday, May 3, at 9pm; and The Vine Restaurant with Joe Rooney and Niamh Marron, Sunday, May 3, at 10.30pm.

Wexford People

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