A Co Cork comedian behind a viral sketch that sees a loyalist face an awkward conversation with housemates from England, Scotland and Ireland has spoken of how humour can break down Brexit's big questions.
Tadhg Hickey (38) works as a writer, comedian, performer and voice artist, and now his sketch 'Loyalism, but in a house share in Cork' has been viewed over a quarter of a million times on Twitter.
Playing all the roles himself, it sees a tense house meeting between a Rangers top-wearing loyalist, and housemates representing England, the Irish Republic, Scotland, the EU and a nearly forgotten Wales.
England explains it is time for the loyalist to move out, as he never really wanted him in the house, but Ireland would be happy to have him. The unfazed loyalist declines, stating he will be living with England forever while a sulking Scotland sits in the corner years despite announcing he was moving out years ago.
Ireland promises that his place is much nicer these days, and that if the loyalist lives with him, he will get access to lavish parties at the wealthy EU's house... not that England or Scotland are invited.
All the while, a tiny ignored Wales gets laughed at when suggesting he might move out himself.
Loyalism, but in a house share in Cork pic.twitter.com/WNDGegEzmA— Tadhg (@TadhgHickey) February 25, 2021
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Tadhg said he has been delighted with the response so far. Despite being a self-confessed Sinn Fein voter, he said his aim was to include all sides in the joke and make fun of everyone equally.
"Most of the comments have been positive. Most of the satire I do I try to be playful as opposed to being cutting," he said.
"I have a pop at policies but I never go in for insulting people. I suppose with loyalism it's an interesting philosophical position it finds itself in, because it's loyal to something that seems to be falling apart. You could argue it's loyal to something that never wanted it to be loyal. I just think there's something intrinsically funny about that.
"I definitely didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but I feel that everyone in the sketch gets a little ribbing. So maybe that's why it's done quite well, that people are sharing it to insult their friends in other part of the British Isles."
Asked for his take on how Brexit will ultimately play out, Tadhg says he believes it will be the middle ground rather than hardened loyalists or republicans that decide Ireland's future.
"I'm most enthusiastic when I listen to reports of unionists in the six counties considering voting for a united Ireland because it's the most practical solution to the current situation economically," he said.
"There's really articulate people on the unionist side, the David Trimbles of the world, and then there's a harder, more militant, loyalism that just doesn't even make sense to me on a practical level," he said.
"The harder they push, the more moderates will think they're stuck in the past. I think the DUP have also done more for Irish unity in the last few years than any Irish republican I can think of."
As a performer with no live gigs during the pandemic, he said the value of online comedy has never been more important.
"In Ireland there is a community of comedians and we share each other's stuff, but at the same time there is a bit of competition. So I think it does bring out the best in people," he said.
"Everyone's at home and on their phone as well, so it's a no-brainer. Also, without being cheesy, I'm getting a lot of messages from people telling me that a sketch has made them smile when they've had a tough day.
"That's the majority of what it's all about... when everyone I can think of is struggling at the moment that means the world to me and makes me feel like I've got a purpose."