“It’s not just another comedy show about how shit Tinder is.” | Sinéad Walsh and Ailish McCarthy talk taking on the dating world together in WingWoman

Tell us about the show you’re bringing to the Glasgow Comedy Festival, WingWoman.

Sinéad: WingWoman is quite simply a homage to the trials and tribulations every human goes through when it comes to dating, feelings, crushes and everything in between. It is told from two different perspectives; the heterosexual point of view and the queer point of view.

Ailish: WingWoman is a contemporary stand up show that explores modern dating and puts the lens on ourselves as we choose a partner. It’s a show that doesn’t take itself seriously and explores dating strategies in the gay scene and straight scene. It’s also a show about friendship.

What inspired you to write a show about modern dating?

Sinéad: Obviously personal experience and venting about various frustrations (having a bitch) was the bedrock of our material. However, as we delved into it a bit, we realised that for as many similarities as there were between our experiences, there was also a world of difference. There seemed to be different rules, different expectations and different outcomes when it came to hetero dating situations vs. homosexual ones, which I know might sound obvious but I guess I didn’t expect the level of difference to be so apparent. So part of the inspiration was showing that too.

I think we also knew what we didn’t want, which is just another comedy show about how shit Tinder is. I’m sick of it personally, so I wanted to come at it from a different angle I guess. Don’t get me wrong, you can’t mention modern dating without mentioning Tinder, but there’s a lot more to this show than just that.

Ailish: Writing a show about dating is always tricky, as you don’t want to come across as an agony aunt, and use the stage as an opportunity to work grievances. But there are some very funny experiences that we have shared with friends that we believe a wider audience would enjoy. We feel we hit on very universal themes that’s along the lines of Notting Hill, or Bridget Jones, but also important LGBT themes. There is no textbook to dating, we are all just trying to figure things out as we go.

This show sounds like it’s likely to touch on some intimate stories. How personal is it likely to get?

Sinéad: Yeah for sure, you can’t really discuss matters of the heart without getting into the intimate stories, particularly the pain points. Both of us touch on situations or people that have caused us pain or sadness, but the purpose of us doing this is to put across the message that we all go through this.

I know myself that I let these situations consume me when they arise, and that can be a very tough rut to get your mind out of, particularly because I’m terrible at talking about these things with friends in a serious way. It makes me want to crawl out of my skin. So I end up bottling it up a lot and leaving myself feeling very isolated. However, putting it out there for everyone to laugh along with and relate to is okay with me for some reason… I have no idea why.

I also talk about things like my coming out story which is funny now, but again, was very raw for me at the time. So I suppose I’m hoping that by putting these stories out there, it not only leaves people smiling, but also with a sense that they’re not the only one walking through hell, and it’s survivable.

Ailish: The show isn’t called heartbreak. It’s called WingWoman and it totally highlights my and Sinéad’s friendship as we try to find our way through modern dating. Yes we touch on some serious topics such as unrequited love, and Sinéad coming out, but it’s also important to learn that these experiences can also bring people closer as you established this bond with your “Wingwoman”. She’ll always be there for you.

What made you want to do the show together?

Sinéad: We actually spoke about this recently and we cannot remember how this came to be, haha! I met Ailish at a gig we were both doing at Cherry Comedy (in Whelan’s here in Dublin) a few months ago. We were having a chat and a laugh in the smoking area and there was a silent disco happening around us. Ailish said something like “I’d really love to just start rave dancing in the middle of them” and I said “c’mon then, let’s do it”, so we did.

Honestly, I feel like that sums up our partnership pretty nicely; we’re a team, we’ve always got each other’s backs and we naturally get on/work together really well.

I think at the time we were going through a lot of similar shit with dating, but the differences between men and women were what blew my mind personally. The “rules” were different. So I started asking her questions, she started asking me about the queer side of things, and as far as I remember, it ran from there.

Ailish: Sinéad honestly brings out the best in me, and is the best person to have in your corner. We are a team, and the audience can definitely see that there is a friendship there. We work really well together and we have great vibes. Often we are just trying to make each other laugh and the audience sees there’s love there.

Echoing what Sinead said, we were going through the same experience but in very different ways. I asked her to be my WingWoman because I would at least have someone in my corner. We laughed saying “is this the blind leading the blind?” But it’s made our friendship stronger.

How has wing womaning for each other helped you navigate single life?

Sinéad: You’d be surprised at how well it has actually gone, haha! Ailish was the one that was quick off the mark in terms of real-life wingwoman-ing. I still owe her a pint for that particular stunt actually, although I did return the favour eventually. But yeah, she can read me like a book I think, so that helps. I know she has my best interests at heart too so it’s nice to have someone to look out for you when you can’t tell your arse from your elbow. Great wingwoman, 10/10, would recommend Ailish.

Ailish: Yep, Sinéad was slacking initially but made up for lost time. Sinéad is so tuned in, it was great to have her to confide in, in moments where I felt vulnerable.

Has writing the show taught you anything about dating and relationships that you can share?

Sinéad: Writing this show has made me sit and reflect on a lot of my past relationships, dating experiences and so on for possibly the first time in my life. Honestly parts of it were tough, and pushed me back into thinking about people and situations that I’d pushed into the back of my mind. I think the two learnings I’ve gotten from this are:

1. Make hay while the sun shines. Things in the dating world change very rapidly and it’s hard to not live in fear of it all falling to shit constantly. But if you do that, you’ll never enjoy the good parts of dating someone. If it’s going to fall to shit, you might as well maximise the fun while you can. And the orgasms.

2. Just because you stop seeing someone does not mean you cannot be friends with them. Obviously if it was a shit situation and you’ve no interest in them as a friend, fine. But some of the closest friends I’ve made over the last couple of years are people that I dated at one point. So don’t write someone off just because the dating aspect didn’t work out. Who knows? They might even set you up with the love of your life in the future.

Ailish: The first thing we did was interview each other, in order to learn about the other person’s history. This was tough to bring up old demons but it enabled me to reflect on what I was looking for, and ask has what I wanted in the past changed? What are the values I have, therefore do I want to potentially date a person who has the same values as me? Or at the same time, do I just want to take a breath, have fun and go in blind?

Ehm, I would say I’m still not the best person to give dating advice, but I have a textbook on jokes about these misfortunes. If anyone has anything to share, I’m all ears!

What do you hope people take away from your show?

Sinéad: Being single is not a bad thing. Lesbian sex is not scary. Badgers do not belong in washing machines.

Ailish: Your WingWoman is an important part of your dating life. Don’t lose sight of friends as you enter the dating scene. And being single isn’t a bad thing, neither is multi-dating or being in a relationship for a long time. Try everything

Are there any other shows you’re looking forward to at the Glasgow Comedy Festival?

Sinéad: I’m a big fan of Trevor Noah so I’d love to try and catch his show in the SSE Hydro Arena on the 20th. Any chance I get to see Alison Spittle, I take, and would encourage others to do the same.

Also really interested in mooching into the smaller clubs and shows and catching a couple of lesser-known Scottish acts. I love watching Scottish comedians because I feel like our sense of humour is very similar to theirs and they never fail me, so I’m really looking forward to that.

Ailish: I’m going along to check out the local talent at the comedy nights, in a potential partner way, but also enjoy Scottish humour. I’d love to catch Jimmy Carr. That would be a real treat.

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to get into comedy?

Sinéad: I cannot emphasise this enough; go for it! It’s the most fun you can have without taking your clothes off. Also, the only way I get over the nerves is to practice, practice, practice. Walk around your kitchen with a hairbrush in your hand and drill your 5 minutes until you get it right, and then keep drilling it until you can’t get it wrong.

Ailish: Just to get started as soon as possible. It’s a great social scene for people in their late twenties and early thirties who don’t play sports. Don’t take it too seriously, as its only time set aside each week for strangers to make you laugh, and you to make strangers laugh.

Ailish and Sinéad are performing WingWoman at Glasgow Comedy Festival on March 21st.

Book your ticket here.

You can keep up with Sinéad’s work by following her on Facebook, Twitter and Instgram.

You can keep up with Ailish’s work by following her on Instagram.

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