Peter Meets, a conversation with Katherine Lynch
Peter Meets; a conversation with Katherine Lynch.
Katherine began her journey in a world primarily dominated by male comedians. Since breaking the mould Katherine has put many a smile on our faces with her lovable characters through the 20 years of her career; something she intended on doing since beginning her journey. “forget your troubles come on get happy”. And what a journey it has been, she has embodied numerous strong female characters from all walks of life since she was crowned ‘Alternative Miss Ireland’ in 1998. Her C.V ranges from actress to producer, from comedian to singer, from writer to TV presenter, her talents know no bounds. Katherine Lynch is the perfect champion for any girl or woman out there who, whether or not, wants to peruse a dream or career in whatever field she choices to be in, Katherine is the perfect example of a role model.
Katherine originally wanted to be a hairdresser basing herself in Longford but fate had a different plan for her. She would fall into acting and comedy by accident after making her to way to Dublin as a teenager; later then enrolling herself into the bull Alley Theater Training Company’. As a child, Katherine and her siblings would role-play along with their father in the kitchen where they would put on numerous shows. In 1998 Kathrine lynch became a permanent fixture on the gay scene in Dublin. She was first seen winning the ‘Alternative Miss Ireland’ crown where she gave birth to her character ‘Tampy Lillette, who she based on the country and western singer, ‘Tammy Wynette’. Since then Kathrine and her writing partner, Warren Meyler, have developed personas which have been adapted to feature on our TV screens across the country. In 2008 ‘Katherine Lynch’s Working Girls’ which Katherine was to star in as, ‘Singing Bernie Walsh’, ‘Sheila Sheikh’ and ‘Busty Lycra’ aired on RTE. Later that year Warren and Katherine’s production company, ‘WAKA TV’, would create ‘Katherine Lynch’s Wonderwomen’, a six-part TV series starring Katherine, which featured two new characters, ‘Liz Hurley’ and ‘Dalkey Dunphy Davenport’ with returning favourites, ‘Shelia Sheikh’ and ‘Singing Bernie Walsh’. In January 2010, her series ‘Katherine Lynch’s Single Ladies’ would air, a mockumentary following the lives of three of Katherine's characters, also featuring Cristiano Rinaldo. ‘Wagons Den’ would also grace our TV screens in 2010. Katherine's persona ‘Sheila Sheikh’ and her co. host, Brain Dowling, hosted a half hour entertainment show loosely based on morning and daytime TV shows, the show ran for two successful series. Katherine took a break in 2012 to pursue a career in music. She took her writings of poetry and life experiences and turned them into music and song with a friend of hers. Her first album ‘Settling Dust’ was released in 2013 and was greeted with rave reviews. In 2017, Katherine took to the dance floor in ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ one of the best experiences of her life. She initially was hesitant in taking part but after much deliberation, she put her dancing shoes on and grew from strength to strength each week. In December 2017, Katherine took to the stage in the National Concert Hall, Dublin with ‘The Festival Productions’ team production of ‘Annie’ where she embodied the character of Miss Hannigan.
I was to meet Katherine Lynch on a Sunday evening in, ‘La Cave’ on South Anne Street, in Dublin. A mutual friend of ours put us in touch with each other. We have been moving in the same circles for so long and have never manage to actually have a conversation with each other. We decided on ‘La Cave’ wine bar, a little part of France in the middle of Dublin. I was slightly nervous as I have been a fan of Katherine since I first saw her as ‘Busty Lycra’ in the days of the Gubu Bar on Capel street, where Panti Bar now stands. My nerves would very quickly dissipate, as she arrived she greeted me with the warmest smile. I stood up to shake her hand to which she leaned in and hugged me. After sitting down and getting the pleasantries out of the way, I began to interview her with ‘Peter Meets’.
PM: Who is your favourite artist?
I would say straight away Bob Dylan; his work is beautiful poetry. I’ve always loved it. I haven’t always loved his voice because he goes in and out of being able to sing let alone deliver, but I do love his lyrics.
PM: What’s your favourite song by him?
KL: It would be 'Hurricane'. It's about the boxer, and it’s a true story. Every single song Bob writes is a short story and I love that. Id love to be able to do that.
PM: Do you write your own songs as well?
KL: I do, I write my own songs but they are nothing like Bob Dylan. Writing is therapeutic really. I was just saying that to Panti earlier, it's just something I do. Other people go to golf courses, I just make an album. The Music industry is a disaster, there’s no money to be made in it. It’s a real labour of love for me. Honour Heffernan was chatting away to me about her new lovely album with Dorthey Perkin. I wanted to know where to get it, and she was saying that, sadly there are no record stores anymore, it’s a horrific situation really. People make these beautiful pieces of art and there’s nowhere to sell them. I think there is one Tower Records somewhere, come to think of it, or buying it on line.
PM: What’s your favourite sound?
KL: Chimes. I love the sound of chimes on balconies, no matter where you are in the world it is a distinct sound and I love the word, chimes! It’s a gorgeous word.
PM: It is, isn’t it? It’s one syllable too.
KL: It's onomatopoeic, the word even sounds like the instrument. I love the sounds of chimes in Thailand too. That’s the hippy in me coming out. I love the sound of the ropes hitting off a mast, that kind of sounds like a chime too.
PM: What’s your favourite book?
KL: ‘The lonely passions of Judith Herane’, by Brian More. I’d have to also say ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ is my other favourite, anything by Brain More. It's very hard to pick a favourite book, I love reading. I did read ‘Fergus’ by Brain Kennedy, and it was very good. But my favourite book is, ‘The lonely Passions of Judith Herane’ I couldn’t believe it was a man who wrote it. You probably know the movie where Maggie Smith plays the part of Judith. It’s this spinster, and I even hate using that word, but she is this spinster who has an alcoholic problem and she goes from board house, to board house, in such a devastating quest for love and it's so sad. It has to be one of the saddest things I’ve ever read, but I do love to read sad stuff or listen to sad stuff.
PM: So do I!
PM: What was the last exhibition that you went to?
KL: It was Guggis exhibition would you believe? I went with Brian Kennedy. That was the last exhibition I went to. He some con artist, isn’t he? Jesus Christ, he’s crap, I got him to sign a book. But exhibitions? Actually, I get my love of art through Brains knowledge or my friend Niall’s knowledge. I don’t have much of a knowledge when it comes to art. I’ve been looking up your stuff, and I absolutely love it!
PM: Oh, thank you. (I blush and move swiftly onto the next question. Compliments are not my forte)
PM: Who’s your icon?
KL: Bette Midler! She’s my icon. I know I should be thinking, Mother Theresa of Calcutta, or the Dali lama, or something, but Bette Midler has probably brought just as much peace into people's lives through her music and her absolutely A-Z of emotions that she can express in her acting and her music. If I wanted to be anyone else in the next life it would be Bette Midler. Her talent is just magic!
PM: Did you hear about the show that she did on Broadway?
KL: Yes, she did ‘Hello Dolly’, she played ‘Dolly’. It was obviously a sell-out. She took Tuesdays off and she had a friend of hers who was also great at playing Dolly fill in for her on a Tuesday, now that is fame isn’t it? I don’t do Tuesdays!
PM: What influences you on a daily basis?
KL: That’s a good question! I suppose the poetry of everyday living. The city, Dublin does actually. Dublin influences me a lot. Having coffee with friends, the adventurous conversations you can go into with people over a coffee. You can also find out so much about yourself. Sometimes there can be no need for therapy that much because we can use each other as therapy. I suppose what influences me are friends.
PM: I know you are an accomplished in your felid of expertise, but do you like to dabble in a bit a bit of painting every now and then?
KL: You know what? I did dabble in painting and I am terrible, but I love doing it! But that’s a bit like all the things I do! I am not brilliant at most of them but I love the freedom to be creative. It’s more important than how brilliant you are or whatever, only some people can be really brilliant.
PM: Well that’s just it, we can all paint and draw and be creative. Its society that deems weather you are good or bad, everybody can do it. Or you know the right people.
KL: I know! When you think of the likes of the fantastic Sean Scully, or Patrick Scott, like there paintings are quite simple, ordinary. If they hadn’t developed themselves as artist and created this kind of niche for themselves, people would never have bought them. Part of it all is marketing and how you present yourself and to be an artist you have to be a business man as well. I think in this modern world especially. There are very few Van Gough who are going to be famous, no matter what happens, you know? I was once going to open a furniture removal company called ‘VanGo’. I would have put some flowers on the side of the van, would have been great, wouldn’t it?
PM: It's not to late. Paten that!
PM: What is the hope for your audience when they encounter your work?
KL: That they just 'forget their troubles, come on get happy!’ That’s just as simple as it is. I know who I am. I am an entertainer, and I can get profound, and I can do a straight play. Someone actually said something very interesting to me the other day that floored me. ‘Oh, maybe I’ll do that’ she said, and then I said ‘Oh maybe I’ll do that festival!’ and she said, ‘No it’s a bit too highbrow for you Katherine’. I went away very disheartened, thinking ‘Highbrow what do they mean by highbrow?' And I thought, ‘Oh you know what they mean by ‘Highbrow’? They don’t get fucking paid, and they are snobs. So, I just try to entertain, it’s a hard job though and I’m actually a very reluctant comedian. I have had an awful lot of negative reaction on twitter and stuff like that. As human beings, we just remember the ugly bits and sometimes we don’t actually remember the beautiful bits and the lovely compliments you get. Instead, you just remember the one nasty idiot who as they call them the ‘P.O Board Warrior’, thrashing out his insecurities on somebody else.
PM: Have you always had a comic streak within you?
KL: You know I am not that funny on a regular day to day basis. My friends are far funnier, my family are funny too. But I think I just absorb the comedy and then I am able to present it. I have a writer, my business partner who writes with me, Warren Meyler, we started together. I create the characters, I think that’s the most important bit.
PM: And when you write together, do you bounce off each other?
KL: We do bounce off each other and we headbutt each other too. We kill each other at times, but we are going through a very good patch in our creative marriage at the moment. Warren actually wrote for ‘Alternative Mrs Ireland’ in 1998 he wrote ‘Tammy Wynette’ with me. Can you imagine we are 20 years together? We have our own production company together now (WAKA TV), he’s kind of more to the front of that.
PM: What do you hope your contribution will bring to your community?
KL: I suppose what I did was play to a cusp of society of women. I played a traveller woman that was kind of breaking the mould in a way. People thought I was being too politically incorrect playing a traveller woman. I played her from a place of love and she wasn’t stereotyped, she didn’t have 20 children, she had her own career, and a van, and she was a singer, and feisty. Bernie has a bit of glamour. I hate that word grotesque but she is a grotesque character, which is a gross exaggeration of a human being. I love ‘Sehlia Sheikh’, she’s just dirty and smutty. ‘Waggons Den’ was tough but a great experience, my dad had just died so it was hard to deliver. And Liz Hurley, everyone’s special child. Then there was busty Lycra too. I am developing another character called ‘Dibl Dumped’ based on all these single women out there who are constantly deluded that guys are in love with them.
PM: I first saw you all those years ago in GUBU as Busy Lycra
PM: If you could have dinner or a drink with someone, alive or dead who would it be?
KL: Jack Nicholson. I'd love to go out with Jack for the night, just to pick his brains, he’s wild and charismatic. I’d love to measure his energy, I fancied him so much when he was younger. I went to see ‘One Flew over the Cocos Nest’ recently, (it was re-released). It was just incredible. I'd loved to have played Nurse Ratched. Jack is just a genius. He’s everything rock and roll, sexy, interesting and charismatic. I did meet him once very briefly. I am like brain Kennedy now, he drops all these names on the floor. Jack is seemingly friends with ‘The Chieftains’, I worked that fact out after our brief encounter. I was walking by Grogans, and out comes Jack with one of ‘The Chieftains’ and I just looked at him, and went ‘NO, NO, NO’ to which he replied, ‘YEA, YEA, YEA’, in a real Jack Nicholson style, and I literally stood on the pavement frozen looking after him and he kept looking back laughing at me. I was star struck.
PM: Do you think an artist needs to be tortured to create?
KL: Do you know what? I think most artists are tortured no matter how good, bad, or indifferent they are. I think they’re tortured anyway. I think they are so fragile in a lot of ways, like it’s a combination of being an extravert and an introvert at the same time, it’s a conflict within the self anyway. For me, there is definitely a conflict where I'd just love to hide away most of the time but then I can’t because I’m like, ‘HELLO, here’s Wally’.
PM: Do you find it very hard being on all the time?
KL: Yea, I do find it hard, but I can also switch off. I am not on all the time. And that’s one thing that I think is why, nearly coming from a small town, there’s people that know you around all the time, so you can switch off. I’ve just been talking about Dorthey Parker, who’s completely tortured and a genius. Then there’s Oscar Wilde who was tortured, and a genius. Van Gough, tortured. Picasso, tortured. Amy Winehouse, tortured. So most of the genius's in the category are tortured. Who wants to be a fucking genius if you have to be tortured? So, I’m glad I'm in light entertainment. Twinks understudy.
PM: What was the first piece of art you bought?
KM: Graffiti is my thing, I love graffiti. Do you know what the first piece of art I bought was? When I first came to Dublin as a teenager and I bought the moons and planets that you see people doing on the street, the spray painting guys. I thought it was genius! I remember to this day standing there as a teenager going, ‘WOW’ and how they made these planetree systems.
PM: YES! And getting high on the spray paint Fumes.
KL: I think that’s why we bought them. I have a lovely piece by the graffiti artist, Pie. I don’t have much art. I am actually going to get my friend Niall to get a piece for me, he has a great eye. I have a lovely photo of John Montague, the poet I’d love someone to paint him. Maybe even you! Every time I see the photo it makes me smile. I really think that a piece of art should make you feel an emotion. You need to have a connection. My mother painted when we were kids and she is a beautiful painter. She gave away most of her stuff. I wish she would paint more but she doesn’t.
PM: Where is your favourite place to get creative in?
KM: If I am getting creative on any level its probably on my own in my house in the South of France. That sounds so conceded, but it’s true. I don’t see my comedy as being that creative, its more like a formula nearly that you can just kind of do. My song writing is creative, you can be an artist in your own head. You can live in a bohemian state and not have to do an awful lot. Fuck it!
PM: Have you always been musical?
KL: Yea I always loved music if that’s what you mean. I love music and I love lyrics. I am a real folkster! I grew up in a town where everyone has a song, its some people’s nightmare but its my ecstasy. When I am in a pub there everyone goes around singing their song, it all comes from the heart.
PM: What’s next for you?
KL: Speaking of Twink, I will be doing the Panto in Limerick, Twinks old job. There is a musical which I am thinking of signing up for which is touring Scotland and Ireland, so I am making the decision if I should do that or not. And I am writing a one woman show with Warren, so we are back on the saddle doing that, and a holiday to Nice.
PM: What’s been the single most important event in your career?
KL: My favourite or the single most important?
KL: The most important event was playing, ‘Singing Bernie Walsh on the ‘Late, Late Show’, which catapulted me into 7 years of my television career. I got up on Pat Kenny's lap for that. We’ve a lovely bond now. I do the book reviews on the Pat Kenny show every month with Brian Kennedy and Mary O Rourke. It’s a lovely little get together. My favourite? I’m afraid to say was ‘Dancing with the Starts’, it was camp, gorgeous, it was musical, and just learning how to do a new thing was magical. Actually, I do think they need to set up an after-care therapy session for those who have been on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ after being eliminated. I am only over it now, a year later. I fell in love with the whole experience. ‘Nothing you can do can do can take me away from my Ki!’ I loved Ki.
PM: Was it every single day practicing for the weekly shows?
KM: Well seemingly they were practicing 8 hours a day this year. We were only practicing 4, and only 4 days a week. I loved my journey, I wouldn’t swap a minute of it. I should have gotten eliminated the week I did, I had a very fair journey.
PM: Do you love a good challenge?
KM: I love a good challenge! Well you know what was really important about it, it was 4 months solid work, I had a routine. I got up every morning at 7 o clock and went to bed wrecked. That’s one thing to be said for artist that they miss out on. Routine is vital. We are living in our heads half the time and we are working 24/7 up there. I'd love to do a musical in The West End or Broadway, even if I had one line, just to be in that routine every night!
PM: did you love doing ‘Annie’?
KM: Oh, I loved it! Miss Hannigan, that was one of the highlights of my career. To work with gorgeous little kids who showed me about discipline and tolerance, they were brilliant. The company I worked for were just so nice. You know when they ‘Sweetie, darling?’ That kind of light entertainment is full of ‘Sweetie, darlings’ and its feckin’ nice! ‘Muwah, Muwah. Sweetie darling. Love you. See you later!’ Why not?