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22nd Feb 2023

Petition calls for stand-up comedy to be recognised as an art form

Fiona Frawley

side by side images of comedian Ailish McCarthy and a microphone on a stage

Currently, stand-up comedy, improv and sketch comedy are not recognised as art forms by the Arts Council.

Anyone who’s ever tried to pursue a career in the arts knows the struggle of working a day job (or two) to balance out your income, and subsequently having no time for the work you originally got the day job to enable you to pursue.

It’s a vicious cycle countless artists are all too familiar with, and the reason many have been forced to abandon their creative pursuits altogether.

One person trying to amend this flaw in the system is Dublin-based comic Ailish McCarthy, who is campaigning for stand-up comedy to be recognised by the Arts Council.

Ailish has spent the last number of years earning her stripes on Dublin’s stand-up scene, and gaining online acclaim through her viral comedy sketches on TikTok.


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♬ Originalton – Beste_Doku_Szenen

After noticing an absence of recognition and funding for stand-up and other comedy forms from the Arts Council (an Chomhairle Ealaíon), Ailish began researching available supports for comics.

“I found that there are existing supports under Night Time economy Forum, Theatre Forum, Irish Theatre institute and minding creative minds. When I approached the arts council they said that the fund comedians but only if it’s a comedy play. They do not fund standup, sketch and improv. I felt this is inequitable as we do the same work as our performing artforms”, Ailish told Lovin Dublin.

She added that the Arts Council is currently reviewing its multidisciplinary department policies, and that she would like to work with them to include stand-up, improv and sketch comedy.

Currently, the Arts Council offers a range of financial support for those working in the arts, aiming to support artists “whose work seeks to engage in a meaningful way with audiences across Ireland and beyond by supporting the creation, development, production, and dissemination of theatre”.

Ailish is campaigning for comics to be included in this support, and not just when they’re putting on a play.

In an online petition, Ailish puts forward that those who work in stand-up, sketch and improv should be able to apply for the same grants as their performance counterparts, and be recognised by the Arts Council.

You can view the petition HERE.

Header image via Instagram/Ailish McCarthy

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