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All eyes on McSavage

DAVID McSavage seems worried. "Sorry, hold on," says the 46-year-old comedian, "this interview is strange." Blimey. I hadn't noticed.

What I had noticed, however, was that McSavage -- without the cameras around -- is something of a relatively cool player. Someone you can have a good conversation with. "I mean, I hope it's good for you," he continues, "we're just talking about stuff that I'm sure isn't gonna be printed."

Are we? Last time I checked, we had already covered a range of topics. His lengthy career as a street performer. The TV show. His driving ban. We'd even discussed how, unlike any other Irish comedian, McSavage continues to divide opinion across the board. Yep, he's the joker that folks love to hate. And the looper that critics learned to love.

Indeed, The Savage Eye was David's big television breakthrough. It might not look, or even sound like, a hit. But it was. Audiences tuned in, reviewers spread the love and Joe Duffy (not his listeners, mind -- just Joe) got annoyed. All in a day's work. Or rather, an entire career's worth.

It wasn't until McSavage quit the day job (standing in Temple Bar or Grafton Street with his guitar, taking the piss out of tourists and fathers with buggies) that the ball started to roll. In fact, it's been two years since the guy last performed on a Dublin street. "I did it for too long in the same place and just doing the same material," he explains. "People who were around there a lot were getting fed up, so I wasn't doing myself any favours."


Still, the money was good. Which made it even harder for McSavage to walk away. "You just roll up with your guitar, amplifier and DVDs", he recalls, "do your show, put out your hat, and that's it. So, for a time, it was a very sort of liberating lifestyle. You just go to any English-speaking country and you've got a job. You've got the green light.

"I kind of took that sort of money-stream away from myself, so it forced me into having to make money in a different way, and so doing The Savage Eye, it kind of motivated me. Actually, that's a great motivator, isn't it? Running out of money ... "

It certainly is. There might not be another season of The Savage Eye ("I don't think there's another season about asking questions about Ireland"), so it's a good thing the stand-up gig is going well.

McSavage continues to write and formulate ideas for television, but live comedy is his forte. Bad reviews only make him work harder -- good ones are nice to read. Whatever the case, he isn't interested in slowing down. But he might just have to get the bus to his next gig. After all, McSavage was slapped with a two-year driving ban earlier this year. Ouch. "I was driving without insurance and licence, and it was right for me to be banned," he says. "The fact that it's written or reported about, it serves me right."


As the man explains, his success has come at a good time. "If I had success early, I'm sure it would have gone straight to my head," he offers. The drinking might not have helped.

McSavage is, of course, a recovering alcoholic. He hasn't touched a drink in nine years, but there was a time when his drinking threatened to ruin every opportunity that was presented to him. "It's just a part of my life that got out of control," he recalls. "I wish I had a relationship with alcohol where I could just have a few glasses of wine, but I never saw the point. I was always just, 'Two glasses of wine, three glasses, vodka -- goodnight', I mean, drinking is something that I think, in Ireland, we all go through, and you mature at it or you don't. And if you don't, you're in big trouble."

One thing is for sure -- he never once considered following in his father's footsteps. Indeed, 'McSavage' is just a stage name. The real man behind the microphone answers to David Andrews Jr -- son of the former Fianna Fail politician David Andrews. "I just thought they were very odd people, the whole lot of them -- all those politicians. I think the fact that you want to be a politician is a worry, because it's such a shit job. Why would somebody want to be a politician?"

I don't know. But I'm still trying to figure out what was so strange about our interview ...

David McSavage is live at the Vodafone Comedy Festival in the Iveagh Gardens on Thursday July 26 and Friday July 27