A Long Way from Tipperary

Irish Comedy club- Enda Whitney.

For those of you who missed Enda on our site before, Enda is in Korea doing comedy and the following is about his time over there.
I’m on a quest to get to know as many Irish people in Korea as I can. With just over 800 or so of us, I’m fairly optimistic that I can do it. The thing that really strikes me every time I meet the Irish is that they are a talented bunch. But up to now that talent has mostly focused around music, dancing and sport and if you asked me a month ago if we had any comedians here in Korea, I would have said no. That was until my friend introduced me to Enda Whitney. A successful comedian in Ireland and Britian, Enda is now in Korea, up and coming on the comedy scene. Less than a year after arriving in Korea, he’s starting an Irish comedy club, so I caught up with Enda to hear about his  endeavors.
Q1. Tell us a bit about your comedy career before Korea
  My comedy career started a little differently than most I suppose. I was in my final year of University in Maynooth back in Ireland and I lost a bet. By losing the bet I was to do an open mic spot at The Ha Penny Bridge bar’s “Battle of the Axe”. Of course now I know that this was a spot where many well known names of comedy had started out and a man named Tony Ferns is still at the helm to this day.

Any way the time came and I performed my first gig , having never had any aspirations to be a stand up comedian as such but after that night I knew I would keep going back. The gig went quite well and no I did not win that night. So began a year or so of open mic nights and ups and downs like I had never felt. I managed then to start getting paid gigs, never a fortune but I started to make my way on to stages with names and faces of Irish comedy that we would all be familiar with in Ireland. I was lucky enough to join a room of talented comedians in the Kilkenny cat laughs festival in 2010 and made a few quid doing dinner dances , mcing battle of the bands and college gigs.
I tried a comedy night in Maynooth to see if I could put something like that together, It went well so I opened The Longford Comedy Club in Longford Town. The club had a few great nights with magnificent shows but any long term success at the time was going to be put on hold as the times would dictate I had to go where the work was. I got some big names down to Longford and was known on the circuit to be a spot where acts could start out opening up for well known comedians. finishing up my undergraduate degree and a counselling qualification I got in Maynooth also. I took a job  with very long hours after that and didn’t see much of the stage except for to take an odd paid gig in some of my favourite venues.From Letterkenny to Cork and everywhere in between. This lead to me taking to the stage with two of R.T.E.’s biggest current names and my trip to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2012. It didn’t get better than that. I suppose it leads me to here talking here.
You’ve been in Korea for almost a year now. What are your impressions of the comedy scene thus far?
WOW!! When you say I have been nearly a year it is nuts to think it but yes almost 9 months here now. I’m really just getting my teeth into the comedy scene here in the past few months and I have to say i’m loving it. It is hugely different to the scene back home or anywhere in the west I think. The current scene seems to be going strong for the past 5 years so I’m told and there has been comedy scenes in the past that have fizzled out due to the turn over of personnel.
 However the group of comedians on the circuit here seem to determined to build on a solid foundation and bringing international acts to Seoul. There are a variety of open mic nights on around the city weekly and monthly along with a showcase night here and there. But our fellow Irish don’t seem to know about the scene and I think that’s the job I want to take up and maybe add the Irish and European interest to an American/Canadian dominated scene and broaden the audiences for all of us by simply letting them know were here. The level of dedication of the group here is impressive and I have to say it has taken me time to deal with the work hours and getting around stages so I have to give all the guys huge bravo for that. Dedication is no small ingredient. A lot of these guys are at it longer than I have been too and have a natural environment in this scene so every night there is something to be learned and taken away to improve my own performance and I think if i ever thought I had nothing to learn it would be time to stop doing stand up comedy.
You’re starting a comedy Club in December. Tell us about the background to that, what it involves and what you think it will do for the comedy scene in Korea.

Yes! I’m opening a comedy club on the 6th of December in an Irish Bar in Jeongja. The bar opened a month ago. It’s called “THE HARP”. The man steering the ship is Joey O’Duill from Tallaght in Dublin , but don’t hold that against him haha. He plays ball with my friend out here from home Ian Kearney and I heard he might want to add a comedy club to the mix to attract customers of all varieties to the bar along with quiz nights maybe Irish Trad nights and what have you. So we went down for a few pints of Guinness (which were great by the way) and I felt that night even as I walked in what I was looking for in a venue for a comedy club in Seoul. There was a homeliness to the place and all the crew in the bar were more than welcoming and there was an existing atmosphere before there was a crowd in it. Joey mentioned and I jumped at it.
 So on the 6th of December 2013 “AG GAIRE” Comedy Club at The Harp Bar Jeongja will be born and we hope it becomes a home one night a month for the many Irish in Seoul but also we want all nationalities to come experience the authentic atmosphere and enjoy the comedy as it will be a great mix of international entertainment hosted by a proud Longford man. Me.  I’m hoping it adds another strong string to the comedy bow here in Seoul and encourages more people to come see and hopefully take part in comedy nights. There are many well run open mic nights existing already in Seoul and I am adding a night where these guys can come off the open mic every now and then to come entertain the crowds with what they know will entertain.
(Ag Gaire is the Irish for “laughing”)
Is your club open to new acts? If so how would one get involved and what is the best way to get involved in the comedy scene in Korea in general?
 My club will most certainly be open to new acts as time goes on. When we establish a good support people will start asking me if they can get up and give it ago. It will however be left one open spot per night so I would encourage anyone who wants to give comedy in Seoul to turn up at any of the many nights that are on and simply ask to go up. Also I’m easy found on facebook and you can drop a message with any questions any time.  Firstly here is the link to The Harp Bar https://www.facebook.com/TheHarpJeongja  no matter what you should check it out for the pint, the food and the craic. The comedy club will open on the 6th of December from 9pm to 11pm. It will be free of charge and it will be an amazing line up. Most likely drink promos too. Keep an I on the Harp’s page or contact me any timehttps://www.facebook.com/enda.whitney?fref=ts
Is Korea a good source of material for you or how do comedians think of routines?
 Korea has been a great source of material and gives us all fantastic environmental material in a different world both inside and outside of the schools. However, for me, the great advantage has been to see what carries to all different nationalities and to find out that my humour is not just gotten by Irish people. It has also allowed me to not just try new avenues of material but present tried and tested stuff that was only tried and tested in western Europe and now has been truely tested internationally. That has to be the best part of it I would say. The thrill of knowing I can engage audiences from all different wals of life and nationality. Every comedian has their own ways of coming up with routines and well mine is probably pretty straight forward in that I just love to bring a room in on a story or a train of thought and hope that they see it through my eyes the way I do for that period of time and enjoy it. So far they have seen Korea and most of what I have talked about my way so I’m happy with that.
Here are the links to the clubs and nights I have at the moment and will help anyone who wants to get involved.What I want is an Irish Comedy club to be an important part of the Seoul scene and join forces with the already existing successful clubs and make the scene spread further and further. So I hope to have your support and see you all for a belter of a night in The Harp in Jeongja on December 6th at 9pm. Slan Go foil agus go raibh mile mhaith agaibh.
Keep up the great work Enda,

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