Sean Finegan, Conor McKenna and Sean Flanagan, aka Foil, Arms & Hog, are the trio of comedians who have completely dominated sketch comedy in Ireland. Their hugely successful YouTube channel is complemented by their extensive tours, and a live encounter with these lads is not to be missed. Claire O’Farrell caught up with Foil, Arms & Hog to find out more about their fresh brand of comedy chemistry.
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First things first, I had to know where that name came from. It turns out they needed to come up with one quickly, and so nicknames were the order of the day.
Sean Flanagan: (Hog) “We were sitting in my parents house trying to rip it out of each other for how we performed on stage.”
Sean Finegan: (Foil) “I play the straight man an awful lot of the time, the guy who is setting up the jokes for everyone else, so Conor called me Foil – meaning the comedic foil. I started ripping Conor then saying the only reason I’m the straight man is because you can’t be, you’re too clumsy.”
Hog: “His arms moved everywhere with really big gestures, he had that kind of John Cleese clumsiness, so that’s where Arms came from.”
Conor McKenna: (Arms) “Then we realised that Sean Flanagan kept hogging all the best parts. He would somehow work himself into the best roles trying to greedily guzzle all the laughs, so Hog was born!”
Foil: “It basically means boring, clumsy and selfish.”
The three Dubliners met in the drama society at UCD while undertaking decidedly un-comedic courses studying engineering, architecture and genetics. It all started with a play…
Hog: “A couple of friends and I wrote a new episode of Father Ted for stage about the pope coming to Craggy Island. We got the approval of all the writers and we actually took it down to Galway. Arms  played Ted, I played Dougal and Foil played Bishop Brennan.”
Foil: “The Black Box is kind of where it all started for us in a professional sense.”
Arms: “It was from the ashes of that play that Foil, Arms & Hog came together because we had such a great time doing it.”
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With degrees from UCD in the bag, but a complete lack of jobs in Ireland at the time, the lads bravely gave comedy a go.
F: “The recession was kicking in beautifully and there were NO jobs.”
A: “Our parents couldn’t get annoyed because they didn’t want us going to Hong Kong to work as architects and engineers, so the  recession was great!”
F: “I probably would have emigrated if it wasn’t for Foil, Arms & Hog. I don’t
think I could have done it, I never really wanted to be an architect!”
Although they had previous stand-up experience, it didn’t compare to their reaction
as a trio.
H: “Back when Des Bishop ran the international comedy club, I was one of the
youngest people to do stand-up at it. I used to sneak into Tommy Tiernan gigs as a
kid for inspiration.”
F: “Also, when you die on your ass as a stand-up it’s quite brutal, there is nowhere
to look. At least you can blame two other people if you are on stage with your
pals!”
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I asked the guys about their process for writing the sketches. They explained that
whoever speaks to the interviewer first, takes credit for all of the jokes.
F: “I write all of the jokes, everything funny is done by me. The other two lads are great at administration and transport, but it’s Foil for all the jokes!”
H: “We just throw muck at walls really. There is no process, it can come from anywhere.”
The trio have entertained Galwegians in the Spiegletent at the Galway Comedy Carnival more than once, but Foil has a vivid memory of one particular show.
F: “One incredibly windy day we were doing the opening gala. The roof was lifting up and banging down very suddenly and violently. The crowd were trying to enjoy the show, clearly terrified! It was extreme comedy. Galway weather comedy in a tent!”
Although hugely successful on Irish shores, I wanted to know how their comedy translates when touring in the UK.
H: “Every year we go over to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the month of August. That’s a totally international audience so we can filter out any Irish-isms.”
Foil, Arms & Hog will perform in the Black Box, Galway this 25 May 2017 and personally, I can’t wait.
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