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Are You Having A Laugh

Andrew Maxwell

One survey said the top three most stressful things in life are:
1. Public Speaking,
2. Moving House,
3. Death.

I think it should be revised. It should include ‘Doing your Tax Returns’

Benjamin Franklin said, “The only things certain in life are death and taxes.”

I did my tax returns about a while ago and I’m only coming back to life now!
If you haven’t gone through this process, count yourself lucky. One anonymous optimist is aptly quoted as saying;

“Death and taxes may be certain, but we don’t have to die every year.”

On any difficult quest you encounter many people who have advice for you. It nearly broke me. It taints everything you are doing. You go back and forth chasing down all the scuttery details and pouring through endless receipts and statements – a process that takes weeks of denial and then the inevitable and harrowing last minute panic! If you talk to taxi men – they all have a horror story, know a guy ‘who lost an arm doin’ it’ or one that will do it for you ‘for half nothin’. One of them kindly gave me his accountants card…but the best people I found to talk to were The Fountain Resource Group and particularly Eoghan and Tom Brunkard.

Maybe some of you have gone through this process, if you do, you will understand the agonising stress that is involved. During the time this is going on, its like your whole life comes into judgement, clouds seem to form above your head as you march towards your impending doom- sorry, deadline. It’s like you are on trial by the government to assess your net worth, your true value, and the penalties are very severe if you lie…

These days – it should be the other way around!

When it came down to the last day, Tom Brunkard was like a midwife! Up to his arms in my receipts and books, silent, wise and encouraging. Like in any maternity ward there seemed to be an unwritten rule, any bad language used was perfectly acceptable! If that’s what tax returns do, I’m glad I can never give birth! Even Einstein is attributed with the lovely line…

“The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.”

Tom’s got the drop on him! The funny thing is, I occupy a category they don’t have on the form! But I will get to that. He was utterly informative and supportive about every part of the process. With a wisdom outside the required fields he seemed to be aware I was reduced to a 7 year old who didn’t have his homework done. Without his help- I might have joined the tax dodgers!

So what do I do?

I run Stand Up I teach communication and comedy workshops to corporate groups like RTE and TV3 and I also do comedy workshops for individuals. This is why it’s hard to find a category for that on the form! So instead of the dreaded paintballing in the rain to compare bruises on Monday morning, I bring people through improv and stand up comedy exercises that brings out their creative side, gives them excellent communication skills and of all things overcomes the first biggest fear in the world – public speaking.

Besides all that – its fun!

Having been on and off stage for the last ten years it’s not the easiest thing to go back to doing homework! I have treaded the boards with the likes of Neil Delamere and Andrew Maxwell and given workshops to lots of rising stars like Eleanor Tiernan (Tommy’s cousin) and Gearoid Farrelly – these guys are beginning to appear on the panel as guests now – (there’s a lot of gigs to do before you appear on the telly!). But this crazy line of work has proven to almost justify my qualifications.

Wait for it…

A Degree in Theology Philosophy and a Masters Degree in Counselling, Facilitation and Group Dynamics. What do you do after that?



If you are trying to get any business off the ground at the moment, you would need a sense of humour, true you have to work hard, but if you can have fun doing it – that’s the key. When you’re trying to run a business in comedy workshops, in Ireland, in a recession – you’d have to laugh out loud!. I don’t think I could have found better back up than The Fountain Resource Group. They will encourage, support, ease and temper your decisions – until you get on your feet, ‘stand up’ and face the music! The nice thing is, Tom did it without criticism. It may be that my tax returns are as hilarious as my business plan but Tom would say,

‘It’s up to you to make it work!’

Some people say that there are saints that walk among us
I now know where to find one!

Ciarán McMahon runs and will be running comedy workshops in January while also giving workshops to businesses and groups who want to form a vision, agree a mission and get there together.

Thanks Tom and everyone else at the Fountain Resource Group.

And if anyone is interested in doing a comedy workshop give me a shout!
You never know you could end up being a stand up at the end of this recession!

Fountain News DigitalThis article was originally published in:
Fountain News Digital – December 2010 (Issue 2)

We are re-publishing all articles from our past newsletter, Fountain News Digital, and you can view all completed newsletters here. There were nine issues published in total between 2010 and 2012.

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