Comedians seeking Fringe success

It is the largest arts festival in the world and this year it will feature two of County Longford’s most gifted comedians, Enda Whitney (26) and Conor Neville (24). Both graduates of St. Mel’s College, the duo spoke to the Leader in the lead-up to their eagerly-awaited trip to Scotland for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

It is the largest arts festival in the world and this year it will feature two of County Longford’s most gifted comedians, Enda Whitney (26) and Conor Neville (24). Both graduates of St. Mel’s College, the duo spoke to the Leader in the lead-up to their eagerly-awaited trip to Scotland for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

“I was asked to do a guest appearance on the opening weekend (August 4-5) of the festival,” said Enda who turns 26-years-old today (Wednesday, August 1).

He added: “I’ll be at the Jekyll and Hyde Club on Hanover Street and I’m really looking forward to it. I wish I could be there for the whole festival, but time wise it just isn’t possible.”

The show, which is titled ‘All About The Craic’, has attracted other comedians such as Dublin’s Gary Lynch and Derry’s Michael Porter.

“In total there are four comedians from Ireland,” said Enda, a student at NUI Maynooth. “My appearance is about 15-20 minutes long.”

The invitation to appear at the prestigious Edinburgh Festival Fringe came following an appearance the young Edgeworthstown comedian made in Omagh, County Tyrone.

“I was doing support for Chris Kent of RTE’s ‘Second Republic’. It was a show that I put a lot of work into. My sketch was called ‘Water Charges And Bono’ and it was loosely based on the current economy and my observations about the way things have gone in Ireland and all over the world,” said Enda.

A son of Mary and the late Frank, Enda’s life-long love of theatre and comedy took on a new meaning when he lost a bet in 2009.

“I was told to do an Open Mike Night and it went well. I had a lot of friends who really encouraged me from there. It snowballed really,” he said.

Joining Enda at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is Ferefad man, Conor Neville. A journalist with the Longford Leader, Conor has been assuming his alter ego for just over one year.

“I would probably like to go into comedy full-time – it’s less work and more money than journalism – if you make it that is,” he said.

Having won one of four Irish slots for the festival’s top award, ‘So You Think You’re Funny’, Conor hopes that he is on his way to stardom.

“With stand-up, it’s really about just doing it. The rhythm has to be there to get the laughs. Also audiences are amazingly different. Some jokes will storm with some audiences and the same jokes could just leave you with an awkward pause with others,” he said.

Enda Whitney agrees that it’s important to stay grounded.

“I have no allusions of being famous but I’d like to go as far as I can. I love doing these gigs because, yes, I get my fix being on stage. But I also enjoy doing them for good causes.”

Hoping to specialise in suicide prevention counselling, Enda aims to marry comedy and mental health together.

“I really do believe that laughter has a huge part to play in mental health,” he said.

Having always enjoyed the buzz of the theatre, Enda’s love of the stage started at a young age in Scor na nOg.

“In more recent times I tried setting up the Longford Comedy Club in the Red Room in PV’s. While it was great it was hard to justify a monthly show,” he said.

Although these Longford comedians will be appearing at different venues at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, they are both looking forward to the experience of a life-time.

Conor, who will take to the stage at the Gilded Balloon on August 14, said: “It’s totally nerve-wrecking getting up there but I enjoy the moment when I realise that it’s going very well.”

Enda, who is headed for the Jekyll and Hyde Club, said: “The Festival Fringe is about small, intimate venues and audiences who really enjoy comedy. I can’t wait for it.”

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe opens on Friday, August 3 and runs until Monday, August 27, during which time many of the world’s highly acclaimed artists will participate in a jam-packed itinerary. For further information visit: www.edfringe.com