At the beginning of the pandemic, comedian and ‘Hardy Buck’, Owen Colgan, moved from Dublin to Belmullet in his home county of Mayo. When Irish Country Living speaks with him, it’s almost one year to the day since the big move.
Referencing Government relocation grants aimed at encouraging people to move from cities to rural towns, announced last week under the Rural Future Plan, Owen jokes he may have to rethink the move.
“I just moved out of Dublin right before lockdown. I saw the Government are on about giving a grant for people to leave the city. The whole city is going to move to Belmullet, so I’ll have to move back then.”
Owen is probably best-known for his role as Buzz McDonnell in The Hardy Bucks, a TV series on RTÉ and later a movie produced by Universal. It was filmed in a mock-umentary style, focusing on the lives of a group of young lads living in a small Irish town.
Talking with Owen, he displays many elements of The Hardy Bucks’ trademark dry, but also hilariously daft, sense of humour, making for a much needed light-hearted and funny chat.
Owen grew up on a farm in Bohola, Co Mayo. Irish Country Living asks what they’re farming at home?
The response: “Can’t tell ya, my father would never forgive me!”
After a period of laughing, he says: “Ah no, just cattle.”
As for did he have interest in the farm: “No. In fact, whatever the opposite to interest is, I had that. I like the farm and I like being out with the cattle, but my father sometimes doesn’t like explaining stuff,” Owen laughs.
“You’re meant to know these things by birth and then just figure them out when you’re in the middle of a field. I do enjoy it, but I don’t do an awful lot of it either.”
The Hardy Bucks
Owen is slightly unsure whether or not he was always funny. Not being the biggest fan of school, Owen reckons his desire to make people laugh came in the place of a penchant for books.
“I didn’t really like school too much,” Owen recalls. “So the way I saw things was, if I can’t be good at the auld books, I’ll try and make people laugh. That was really just what I was thinking.
“Then I tried to develop that skill of making people laugh. By accident I happened into that in The Hardy Bucks and I just went from there.”
Owen was approached by Martin Maloney, who plays Eddie Durkan, to ask would he be interested in being part of the show. It was first just uploaded to YouTube. Owen says, for himself, there was no great plan behind the whole thing. It evolved very organically.
“It was like we were doing the same things we were doing in real life, not obviously to that extreme, but now we were just recording it. That’s pretty much how it started. There wasn’t a whole lot of thought in the sense of, we weren’t trying to forecast a five year goal or anything like that.
“I think one of the best things about it was, there was no pressure. We weren’t thinking, how is this going to go? Or how do we get the most out of this? We were just in the moment, trying to have the craic.”
Much of the show in the beginning was improvised. Owen attributes some of the show’s success to this. The Hardy Bucks went on to enter and win Storyland, an online TV show competition run by RTÉ. The Hardy Bucks aired for four seasons and a Christmas special on the national broadcaster.
Still Alive tour
As well as recording the series, the Hardy Bucks lads did stand-up, which Owen went on to pursue solo also. At the beginning of the pandemic last year he had 70% of a new show written, which obviously he hasn’t gotten to perform yet.
He has reimagined some of the material, just so as he won’t seem oblivious to COVID-19 when he gets back on stage. Having rescheduled the tour, Still Alive, a couple of times, he has now planned an Ireland and UK tour for October/November time, with one gig sold out in Dublin already.
“I’m really looking forward to it. I had a feeling the last time when we scheduled it for April/May that with the COVID it might not go ahead. I’ve a good feeling for this one in October/November time.
“I’d say for myself anyway, there’s more excitement, because to be around people, I’ll never take it for granted again. It’s so nice, with the lockdown I’ve missed being around people.”
One time I wrote a to-do list and on it was to make a to-do list the following night. Then I realised that I’d need to review my to-do list
As well as practising for the show, Owen also records his own podcast, The Owen Colgan Show, from his home in Belmullet. He has built a “man cave” to help him work from home and says he religiously does a to do list every day to increase his productivity.
“I had to do a to do list the night before, because if I didn’t, I’d wake up and be like, ‘I don’t know what to do today’.
“One time I wrote a to-do list and on it was to make a to-do list the following night. Then I realised that I’d need to review my to-do list.”
The laughs are in the little things, that’s for sure.