Katherine Lynch just can’t resist letting the ‘trickster in the room’ come out to play.
The irrepressible Leitrim comedienne made herself a household name with her ‘Wonderwomen’ characters Sheila Sheik, Liz Hurley and the memorable Singin’ Bernie Walsh.
Last year she released a critically acclaimed album of original songs and covers. “Settling Dust” drew on personal heartache, family bereavements and break-ups. It featured musicians such as Sharon Shannon and marked a change in direction fo r the normally rude and lewd television star.
Lynch brings her show ‘Songs from Settling Dust’ to the Riverbank Arts Centre in Newbridge this Saturday night - but she reassures fans that it will still be a fun show... and country and western star Bernie might even make a guest appearance!
After the death of her father Tom from Parkinson’s Disease in 2011, Lynch said she “found it hard at the time to connect to comedy”, and it was this which inspired her to try her hand at writing and recording an album of heartfelt and personal songs.
Lynch is no novice to singing - she and her sister sang in local bars in her native town of Mohill, and, as she says “everyone Irish has a party piece”.
She was pleasantly surprised last year when critics compared her debut album to the likes of Kirsty McColl and Dolores Keane. “I felt like emailing them, saying ‘are you sure’? I don’t normally get reviews saying I’m ‘poignant’ and ‘thoughtful’.
“It has taken on a life of its own, and I love it.”
One song on the album, ‘Twilight Romance’, holds a special place in Lynch’s heart. “It was inspired by the death of my dad. It’s about a dream my mother Maureen had about dad waiting for her under a street light, and I thought that was a measure of eternity, when someone passes away they’re waiting for you to take you for a dance.”
Poet Patrick Kavanagh was Lynch’s grand-uncle, and the comedienne says she is inspired as much by poetry and short stories as by other singers. She does a version of Kavanagh’s ‘Raglan Road’ on her album, and the poet is also introduced using video footage during her stage show.
‘Settling Dust’ and the handful of stage shows she has played to support the album - she recently “set the house on fire” during a gig at Dublin’s Sugar Club - has been a cathartic experience.
“I’m influenced by everything, by affairs of the heart. When things happen such as death or the break-up of a relationship, it’s nice to be able to express it eitherer through humour or emotionally through song, it’s a good balance.”
Some comedians have a reputation of being dark and depressed outside their stage or screen personas, but Lynch agrees that she has channelled that emotion into something more positive with her singing and songwriting.
Her live shows deal with affairs of the heart, but always with an eye on the comedy angle.
“I was daunted at first, but now I love it,” she says when asked abo ut baring her soul on stage. “But it’s terrible, I can’t not let the trickster into the room. The s how is a bit like the ‘A to Z’ of emotion, it’s funny in the middle but then I’ll bring the audience back to a sad bit or a sing along.
Lynch has just spent the past month in France working on comedy material. She has a new RTE mockumentary ‘The Centre’, based on the goings-on in a Dublin community centre, hitting the airwaves in coming months.
She also has vague plans to take another comedy show on the road this summer but admits she also fancies “taking a nice holiday”. “As long as I can keep the wolf from the door, I’m happy,” she said.