Changes: Joanne McNally
The audio version of this episode is available here.
Annie [00:00:01] Hello and welcome to a brand new series of Changes. My name is Annie Macmanus and we are here to talk about change. Hi guys, I'm sat in my garden office on a really sunny Friday afternoon. The door is open, the birds are singing, the butterflies are fluttering. It's really nice to be here, kind of at the very end of summer as autumn is slowly approaching, and I'm thrilled to bring you this new series of Changes. So change is omnipresent and inevitable. It defines our lives. And as someone who's had a lot of conversations about it, I can tell you it comes in many forms. There's change that's forced upon you, you know, this can happen in childhood or maybe in terms of accidents or health scares. Then there's change you enact yourself when you are older, when you have some agency, you can own your choices, you can orchestrate your own upheavals. And then there's slow change that is happening all around us in terms of society, climate, politics. Well, this podcast focuses on identifying and exploring big moments of change in our guests lives so that we can learn better how to navigate change when it happens to us. When it arrives unwanted, or when we want to use change as a tool to enhance our lives, to progress, to thrive, and to live fully and to live well. For me, change, for better or worse, makes you feel alive and that is why I like to talk about it. Let's begin.
Joanne [00:01:33] I love change. I am on the road all the time, which is change. I like routine sometimes because I don't have that much.
Annie [00:01:42] Yeah, it's a novelty.
Joanne [00:01:43] Yeah, I'll lean in, I'll be like oh this is nice, and then I'll get itchy feet. Like I'm a bit of a circus act, which kind of happened slowly, I didn't really notice that happening. But no, I really like change.
Annie [00:01:51] That is the voice of Joanne McNally, an incredibly gifted Irish comedian who is currently enjoying huge success. The Guardian put it well when they said, 'she inspires passionate devotion because she radiates relatability. She's able to sum up many women's innermost thoughts and feelings with lightning wit and an invariably hilarious turn of phrase'. Joanne has booked an impressive 60 nights at the iconic Vicar Street venue in Dublin with her show The Prosecco Express. To give you an idea of scale, at 63,000 tickets for one venue alone. She's also touring the UK. She's played four sold out shows at the Palladium, recently sold at the Apollo with extra dates added. She has a book deal and a lot of you, I'd say most of you listening, will probably know her for her phenomenally successful and popular podcast, My Therapist Ghosted Me. Joanne co-hosted a podcast with model and presenter and childhood pal Vogue Williams, and it's currently racking up a colossal 2.5 million downloads a week. If you haven't listened yet, I hope you will after this episode. Right before we get into it, just a heads up that eating disorders are discussed so please bear that in mind if it could be triggering or sensitive to you, check the show notes for details. But right now it's time to talk about change. Joanne McNally, welcome to Changes.
Joanne [00:03:18] Thank you very much Annie.
Annie [00:03:19] It's so good to have you here. It's the most fun research I've ever done just because I've just basically been listening to your podcast constantly, sniggering away to myself on trains, on bikes, in cars, on my jogs. Like, just congratulations. You're flying!
Joanne [00:03:34] Thank you. Yeah, the podcast is doing well, who knew? I just, kind of very surprised myself to be honest. I don't listen to it, can't listen to it. And you're probably like me. I can't listen to myself back. I just hate myself. I listened to it once and I actually, I think I kind of cried, like, not like dramatic cried, but it made me want to scrub my insides out with a Brillo pad so I just don't listen to it now, so I don't even know what's on it. My biggest fear is that I sound stupid. I'm always saying to Vogue, do we sound stupid? She's like, no, we don't sound stupid. But also I kind of overshare and I like- I think that's a nice thing about the podcast so I don't I want to hear back what I've said, because I'll regret it.
Annie [00:04:14] Yeah, fair. I mean, that is part of why I love it is that there's just- you genuinely have no idea what's around the corner. Like one minute you'll be talking about a dog with sparklers for legs, and the next minute you'll be talking about riding your boyfriend and he falls asleep.
Joanne [00:04:33] Bastard yeah *both laugh*.
Annie [00:04:33] There's no limits!
Joanne [00:04:33] My poor boyfriend. So he was like, why did you fucking tell em that? And I was like, because it's funny! But he was like, tell them that it wasn't cos you're shit in the sack, I was wrecked! And I was like yeah, don't worry about it, I'm obviously going to issue a statement to make sure everyone knows I'm not shit in the sack *Annie laughs*.
Annie [00:04:50] That's already written.
Joanne [00:04:51] Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. That piece is coming don't worry. I've won awards, do you know what I mean? *Laughs*.
Annie [00:04:58] *Laughs* But like, I think part of the reason why I love it anyway is just the fact that you take the piss out of each other, you and Vogue Williams, your co-host, so mercilessly. And you know there's so much to slag off in a brilliant way, even if you wanted to you cannot dislike you guys because you take the piss out of yourself so brilliantly. The best thing about people is when they can take the piss out of themselves and you're so good at it.
Joanne [00:05:21] I was only saying to Vogue that I'm sure there's plenty of people who don't like us. But the thing is, when you kind of know what they're saying, when you anticipate what they're going to say, it kind of takes the power out of them a bit, do you know what I mean? You're like, yeah I know we sound the same, I know we're annoying. The thing as well is when I was getting into stand-up, I was told my accent- Where are you from?!
Annie [00:05:40] I'm from South Dublin, but I've lived here for 20, over 20 years.
Joanne [00:05:45] Okay, yeah.
Annie [00:05:46] So my accent has- it'll come up now I'm talking to you, but it's diluted a bit.
Joanne [00:05:50] Yeah, it's diluted but- so mine is diluted as well because it was, I kind of had to. When I first started I was very southside, like very southside, d'you know like that. And erm, it was always middle aged men, they're like 'can't listen to that shite, hate that accent'. You know, just assume privilege about it and all. Because me and Vogue both kind of have that accent. So I can imagine there's some people who we make their ears bleed. Plus, it's kind of just nonsense. The pod is just like, it's like verbal diarrhoea. But anyway, I think the reason that we can slag each other so well is because we're so different. So Vogue's like, married with kids. She's rich, she's loaded, she has a very posh, aristocratic husband erm-
Annie [00:06:31] Spencer from Made in Chelsea. Spenny, as she calls him which I'm obsessed with.
Joanne [00:06:35] Spenno as I call him. And she holidays in St Barts and stuff and then I'm on the other end where I was, when we started, single, no kids, living in a house share in Clapham, hadn't a pot to piss in, you know. So because we represent different lifestyles, I guess, I think maybe that's why it works as well.
Annie [00:06:53] Yeah.
Joanne [00:06:53] And that's why we can take the piss out of each other because we're so different. She's like highly organised anal. I think she's OCD. I honestly think she's kind of a touch of OCD, whereas I'm just chaotic, like my room. So all those differences, I think, mean that we can slag each other you know. Plus it's fun slagging Vogue because.
Annie [00:07:12] Well, she can take it.
Joanne [00:07:15] Because she can take it! And that's the most important part and I think it's done wonders. The pod has done wonders for us both, and one of the things I think that has really benefited Vogue with is that people know she's sound now, and I think before-
Annie [00:07:28] Exactly.
Joanne [00:07:28] People didn't know her.
Annie [00:07:29] Yeah, yeah, yeah. And from the outside, on paper, you could be snobby, you know.
Joanne [00:07:34] Exactly.
Annie [00:07:34] Just on paper. Like if you wrote down, you know, Vogues whatever, I don't know. But then you hear her and it's like, she's so sound.
Joanne [00:07:42] Yeah, she's just. She's just normal. But she had a very polished version of herself because she's a presenter. And I think when you're a presenter, you kind of have to stay a little bit beige almost because you want shows and channels to be able to put their stamp on you. But anyway, yeah, she's great crack, she's sound.
Annie [00:07:57] And you're the opposite in that you just say whatever you want, which is amazing. And then yeah, you bring that out in her too.
Joanne [00:08:02] That's the thing. But like I never presented myself as any other way. So I was always kind of- because I'm a comic so I get away with more, do you know what I mean? I'm held to no standards *Annie laughs* fucking brilliant. No one gives a shit what I say, no one gives a shit what I say, it's amazing.
Annie [00:08:19] Congrats on the comedy stuff as well. It's incredible. People must be fucking ringing you off the hook.
Joanne [00:08:25] Not really! *Laughs* No, but I've kind of become quite self-contained, like you kind of just- I started this tour in December in Leicester Square Theatre. And I've been basically on the road since then. Now I just had a month off. It wasn't all off, I was working but I just wasn't gigging. So at the start it's like party, party. And then by like February 8th, you're like, alright listen this isn't sustainable.
Annie [00:08:52] Like, yeah, night 23 you're like *snores*.
Joanne [00:08:56] Yeah, do your show, go home, do your show, go home, do your show, go home. So I've become- this tour has actually made me more responsible, which I wasn't expecting. I'm more sensible now.
Annie [00:09:05] Yeah. I guess when it's that intense in terms of the workload, you have to deliver like.
Joanne [00:09:10] Oh hun, and every single night and like there's no ringing it in. Yeah, so I was like, Joanne, you have to just grow up now. Grow up.
Annie [00:09:18] So obviously you've been grafting as a comedian for years.
Joanne [00:09:21] Mm hmm.
Annie [00:09:22] Do you think, My Therapist Ghosted Me, the success of that kind of boosted your awareness as a comedian? Did that help? Yeah.
Joanne [00:09:29] Oh, yeah. The podcast was an absolute game changer for me. Game changer. It's changed my life. Changed my life.
Annie [00:09:35] Well, talking about change.
Joanne [00:09:37] Yes, boom.
Annie [00:09:38] Segue. How are you with change? Are you a fan of change? Do you lean into it, do you avoid it?
Joanne [00:09:44] I love change, yeah.
Annie [00:09:46] Really?
Joanne [00:09:46] I would say I'm a bit of a commitment phobe in all aspects of my life.
Annie [00:09:50] Okay.
Joanne [00:09:51] I love change. I am on the road all the time, which is change. I, I like routine sometimes because I don't have it that much.
Annie [00:10:00] Yeah, it's a novelty.
Joanne [00:10:01] Yeah, I'll lean in, I'll be like, oh this is nice, and then I'll get itchy feet. Like I'm a bit of a circus act, which kind of happened slowly, I didn't really notice that happening. But no, I really like change. I love it. A change of scene, I'm always kind of- not, I don't change friends, but I love meeting new people and I love going to different places and yeah, I love it. I'm on my own a lot. So I kind of have to make my own fun a lot of the time. So I'll try new things, go to shows like all that stuff. Yeah, I love it, love change.
[00:10:27] *Short musical interlude*
Annie [00:10:37] Let's start with childhood, so you grew up in South Dublin, Killiney am I right?
Joanne [00:10:40] Yes.
Annie [00:10:42] Do you go to school with Vogue?
Joanne [00:10:43] No. So she was Howth, I was Killiney, so I went to Loreto Dalkey, she went to some school out in Howth, I can't remember the name.
Annie [00:10:49] Okay, okay. And how was, how was that? How was school?
Joanne [00:10:52] Loved school! I was in- oh, my God. Do you know the way some comics, they say that they were very serious in school and they weren't the class clown.
Annie [00:11:00] Yeah.
Joanne [00:11:00] I was 100% the class clown.
Annie [00:11:02] I read an interview with you in Hot Press where they called you like the mouthy girl at the back of the class. And I was like, that's so on point.
Joanne [00:11:08] Hundred percent. This wasn't, it wasn't like there was a, it wasn't like I was a really shy, introverted child and kind of found my voice later in life. I was always a show pony and a chatterbox, and was always having to sit on my own in class because I was disruptive and all that stuff. But I loved school because I had loads of friends and I just loved the vibe of that. And it was a girls school. There was loads of camaraderie. We had our little gangs and we'd go out at the weekend and we'd be drinking in fields and smoking in the bike shed and I loved it. I loved it too much actually, that they asked me to leave *Laughs*.
Annie [00:11:39] *Laughs* when and why?
Joanne [00:11:42] Well, so it was like I mean, it was it was a gentle expulsion. It wasn't a- it was a- they just made it very difficult for me to be there. Like, you know, the honors teachers didn't want to take me anymore.
Annie [00:11:53] Why? Because you were disruptive in class?
Joanne [00:11:55] Yeah, I was disruptive. Yeah, and then I went to France for school for a while and then they wanted, Loreto were insisting I still pay the fees and they were like, she's- they were just trying to push me out slowly and then they eventually, my mum was like you're not going back and I was like, grand. And then I went to the institute, which is a mixed school.
Annie [00:12:14] I remember this so well, I remember people going to the institute.
Joanne [00:12:17] Do you remember the institute? I was, like, around boys and all for the first time. And I was like, oh, God, how do we navigate this? Because I was so used to being in this really safe click of just females. I think there was only one male teacher in the school, it was just women, women, women, women, women. And I love women, like I love- I'm a very, I'm a girls girl, a big time. Like I love the chats and I love chatting to new women and like, I live in the toilets, do you know what I mean? *Annie laughs* and just like all that shit.
Annie [00:12:45] I can just imagine it.
Joanne [00:12:46] I just love it. I just thrive on it. But no, I loved school. I really did. The move was probably good for me because I probably wouldn't have done that while on my exams in Dalkey because I was a messer, you know? And I deserved to do well because I was smart.
Annie [00:13:02] And you did well?
Joanne [00:13:03] I did well, yeah. And then I went to college and I did- I wanted to be a journalist.
Annie [00:13:06] Yeah.
Joanne [00:13:07] But actually I wanted to be an actor. But my parents, that wouldn't have been the vibe. They were like, that's, acting's for, you know, boho-
Annie [00:13:16] Yeah. It's not a reliable career choice is it? it's a bit risque.
Joanne [00:13:20] Yeah. And my parents weren't arty.
Annie [00:13:23] So what were your parents like?
Joanne [00:13:25] So Dad was, he died when I was 16. He was a draftsman and my mum was a nurse. She's still alive but retired. So, you know, regular.
Annie [00:13:33] What's a draftsman, like an architect, kind of.
Joanne [00:13:36] So he drew up the designs of architects. I think that's, I think that was the vibe. I never really understood it either but erm, he used to lecture like tactical drawing and stuff, so that was his thing. Yeah. So then, because I'm adopted, mum said that I arrived, I kind of tap danced into the house and she was like, because that just wasn't her thing, she was like, I didn't know what to do with you *Annie laughs*. So they put me in drama and all that and I loved it, but it was never, in my family that would never have been a career choice. That's something you do at the weekends. D'you know what I mean, so then I thought I wanted to be a journalist and a writer and then I ended up in PR because I felt like that kind of ticked a couple of those boxes, like writing press releases and all. But it didn't really tick a lot of boxes in the end.
Annie [00:14:19] It's so funny, isn't it, when you're that age, like I went to uni in Belfast and I got to third year and I was like, right, what do I want to do? What do I like? I like music. I like going out and chatting with people. Put those two together. Music and talk equals radio. Like literally that rudimentary, it was like, I'm going to try and get into radio. It's so basic isn't it *laughs*.
Joanne [00:14:38] Yeah, but Annie look at you! *Annie laughs* It works, d'you know what I mean.
Annie [00:14:44] It works.
Joanne [00:14:44] I think that's so impressive because I didn't have a clue. I was so lost. I didn't know what to do. I knew I had a side- well it ended up being, I had a side to me that was deeply unfulfilled and I ended up being incredibly unwell. Now I don't know if I- I had a really bad eating disorder, which is how I ended up in comedy but I'll tell you about that.
Annie [00:15:01] Yeah.
Joanne [00:15:02] I'm so envious of people like you who were like, this is what I'm good at and this is what I'm going to do. I remember there was a girl I was in school with at 18 or 17 when we were doing our leaving cert. She was like, I want to be a radiologist. And I was like, a radiologist? How the fuck?!
Annie [00:15:15] What even is that? When you're 18.
Joanne [00:15:16] Yeah, is that a pirate radio station, what the fuck is that? *Annie laughs*. She goes, I want to be a radiologist, and do you know what she is? She's a fucking radiologist. Like, what? I hadn't a clue!
Annie [00:15:26] I didn't think I was good at either of those things. They're just what I liked. So I was like, I'm going to at least, you know, I'm going to at least try and pursue what I like. Because that's the goal, isn't it, to end up doing a job that you like.
Joanne [00:15:35] But it's such a practical way of looking at something. It's so impressive, you're like, these are the two things I like and that's what that career is, and then you're in that career!
Annie [00:15:45] Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, it's pretty basic, but maybe that was a good thing, just to kind of-
Joanne [00:15:50] Yeah! I was seven years doing a three year degree, because that's how clueless I was.
[00:15:54] *Short musical interlude*
Annie [00:15:58] So what would you say is your biggest childhood change then?
Joanne [00:16:02] My biggest childhood change. There was a few, I mean not to get too sombre, but my dad dying was obviously a huge change.
Annie [00:16:10] When you're 16 as well and you're going through so much change like bodily and mentally and hormonally and everything.
Joanne [00:16:16] Yeah. So he died the summer I turned 16 and then that was the summer that I was just starting my new school in the institute. So I'd left Dalkey, started a new school, he was just dead. My family weren't, we weren't handling it that well.
Annie [00:16:29] Was it sudden?
Joanne [00:16:31] No. But I mean, you know what's funny, he was very sick for a very long time, but it was still sudden. I was young. I did not in my mind think he was going to die.
Annie [00:16:40] Of course, yeah.
Joanne [00:16:41] I just knew Dad wasn't that well. But I genuinely didn't think he was going to die, but he went ahead and did it anyway *laughs*.
Annie [00:16:48] I'm so sorry.
Joanne [00:16:49] Oh don't worry! He's over 20 years gone now. But I just mean that, that was the biggest shift. That time was a huge shift.
Annie [00:16:56] Yeah.
Joanne [00:16:57] Erm, new school.
Annie [00:16:58] So new school. New people.
Joanne [00:17:00] Yeah.
Annie [00:17:00] And home life in total flux.
Joanne [00:17:03] Big time. Yeah, that was a bit- What would you say? Speaking of change, there was very little routine around that time in my life. Everything was new. So it was a bit of a, it was a bit of a swirly wirly time for me.
Annie [00:17:15] Yeah. Yeah. And how did that change you do you reckon? Looking back now with hindsight.
Joanne [00:17:21] I don't know. Like, it's funny, isn't it? You wonder, I mean, what makes us who we are? It's kind of like, I remember, you know the whole nature versus nurture thing, which has always been a big interest to me because of the adoption thing. But I'm like, what bits did I inherit and what bits did I learn? And because I'm not really like my family.
Annie [00:17:43] Right.
Joanne [00:17:43] But I don't know. I don't know why. I don't know why that is. And so Dad dying and all that stuff, I don't know what impact that's had. I remember reading an analogy once. They're like nature versus nurture. It's like mixing paint, say red and white paint and the thing goes pink and then trying to extract it again to see what bits are- you can't!
Annie [00:18:02] It's impossible.
Joanne [00:18:02] It's impossible. You don't know.
Annie [00:18:04] That's a great analogy, yeah.
Joanne [00:18:04] You don't know. But yeah, I guess I kind of had to figure my shit out a bit at that stage because I like, you know, you're kind of- what your mum's grieving, you kind of lose two parents in a way, for a short space of time.
Annie [00:18:15] Did you have any siblings?
Joanne [00:18:17] I have one brother called Connor. But he was older so he wasn't in the house as much, you know. So that was probably the biggest change of childhood, I would say.
Annie [00:18:27] Mm hmm. And then you went and you did PR and you just said you did seven years in uni for a three year course.
Joanne [00:18:34] So I did English and sociology and jeez, I did everything. When I started I did French, I did Greek and Rome and I did everything. And I dropped out and started again and dropped out.
Annie [00:18:41] What uni?
Joanne [00:18:41] UCD. University College Dublin.
Annie [00:18:44] Amazing. Yeah.
Joanne [00:18:45] So English was always, I'd always loved English. I always loved writing. That was my thing. I really enjoyed that. So I knew I was going to do that. And then I absolutely loved sociology, loved it. And I was actually going to, I was going to do a doctorate and I was going to like become an academic.
Annie [00:19:02] Because didn't you get top points in uni? Like you went full like top marks.
Joanne [00:19:06] So because up to that point I'd been such an- I'd kind of just taken the piss and I hadn't really applied myself at all and I was not turning up for exams and like all that shit. So, when I finally got my shit together, I was like right, I'm going to go back and do my finals. I did work very hard and yeah, I did. I came first in sociology in my year in college.
Annie [00:19:23] Wow. And this is a big uni.
Joanne [00:19:25] Yeah.
Annie [00:19:25] A lot of people in that year.
Joanne [00:19:27] Yeah, it was and erm, I think I kind of had to prove to people that I wasn't thick. Because I'd been such a fuck up. I was like, I was such a fuck up.
Annie [00:19:35] When? Before then?
Joanne [00:19:37] Yeah, I was, I was just, I was partying and I wasn't going in. And, you know, everyone was kind of worried about me, you know, one of these kind of like, is she ever going to get her shit together and what's she going to do? And, you know, my brother, he'd gone very like college, accountancy, marriage, kids. And I was just kind of floating around. So yeah. So because of that then, if you come first, they offer you a doctorate like a scholarship. So I was, I was genuinely really considering doing it because I loved sociology so much. And then this PR offer came in for this masters so I ended up doing that, which I'm glad. I'm glad I did. I think I would have been kind of bored in academia after a while. I don't know. It probably wouldn't be for me.
Annie [00:20:15] I love how extreme though, that is. That kind of sliding doors moment like the fork in the road. Will I go and be a professor or will I go and work in PR?
Joanne [00:20:24] And you know what that is? I didn't know myself at all so I was like, oh I'm obviously good at sociology. Right, well I'll just, I'll be a sociologist. Like, in my leaving *laughs* I'll never forget this. My poor mother because we didn't know what I was gonna do. I got an A in geography, now the reason I got an A in geography-
Annie [00:20:40] So did I! It's the only thing I got an A in.
Joanne [00:20:45] Same! Hold on, is it? I think it is. Yeah. That's so funny.
Annie [00:20:46] Oh, my God. I was so happy that I got that A.
Joanne [00:20:50] I know. You know what happened to me though, in the geography exam. You know where you study kind of half the course, course curriculum yeah. So you're like, alright listen, I'm going to go heavy on waterfalls.
Annie [00:21:00] Yeah. Or like Oxbow lakes, or whatever.
Joanne [00:21:02] Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm going to put all my eggs into waterfalls. Turn up on the day, glaciers come up, you're like, fuck. The school I was in went on fire.
Annie [00:21:13] What? On the day of the exam?
Joanne [00:21:17] 20 minutes into the exam. So I opened the paper. I'm fucked. School goes on fire. We're all evacuated. We have to resit the geography. And the next time I've obviously learnt more of the curriculum, and then the thing that I studied came up. But because I got an A in geography and because I was so lost in my twenties, mum was like, you're great at geography! *Both laugh*. Would you not do something with the geography? I was like, mum, I absolutely chanced my arm on that one. Like, I'm not a natural. Like, it's not like geography's a great skill of mine, do you know what I mean? I couldn't even pick out Peru on a map *Annie laughs*. But she was like, the geography, she's great at the geography!
Annie [00:21:55] Oh, my God.
Joanne [00:21:57] But yeah, so that was the thing, because I didn't know myself at all I was like, oh shit, I was dying for direction. So I was like, oh if I'm good at sociology, maybe that's what I should do, you know? But no, that wasn't the right route for me so thank God I didn't take it.
[00:22:09] *Short musical interlude*
Annie [00:22:19] So how were the PR years?
Joanne [00:22:21] Pretty good. Like it was great- I worked in a really fun agency full of young people who are still some of my best friends.
Annie [00:22:27] Right.
Joanne [00:22:28] The social side of it was really good. PR is a very stressful job.
Annie [00:22:31] Yeah.
Joanne [00:22:32] Especially when you're on the, in an agency. So you're working on all of these brands. I did enjoy it. It was actually a great learning curve for the job I'm in now because I have a good understanding of, like, branding. I like a good poster, artwork, all that stuff because that's the stuff that you learn and I can write a good blurb. I kind of understand the power of a good photo, stuff like that. But, I kind of knew it wasn't really for me long term. And then I was kind of unwell. I was kind of, I was unwell for a while.
Annie [00:23:06] Is this the eating disorder?
Joanne [00:23:08] Yeah. I had an eating disorder for a while, but I was kind of in denial about it and I was functioning with it and, you know, it's kind of like, ah sure everyone pukes up the odd meal and then it was getting worse and worse. And I think the job, because the job was quite stressful and I'm not good at managing stress, I get kind of overwhelmed. And so that was my way of dealing with it and yeah, and then I just got worse and worse and worse. And then-
Annie [00:23:30] So you were in your twenties then, like early twenties?
Joanne [00:23:33] Late twenties.
Annie [00:23:34] Late twenties.
Joanne [00:23:35] Yeah, so I was still like, so I got into stand-up, I think it's 2017. So I was still in treatment when I was, when I started.
Annie [00:23:45] Wow. So it got worse to the point where it was affecting your life and you had to do something about it.
Joanne [00:23:52] Yeah. So I had to quit my job and I was, I went into Vincent's and stuff. I was a day patient, but I was in there. I went into a programme.
Annie [00:23:59] What was the turning point? When did you know that you had to do that?
Joanne [00:24:05] Erm *laughs* I mean, there was many turning points, but I ignored a lot of them, I was going around in circles for a very long time. I was like, you know, maybe, maybe this is, maybe I, but because it feels self-inflicted, you feel like, well I've started this so I can stop it. You don't- I didn't really take it seriously as a mental health issue. I thought I could fix it.
Annie [00:24:24] I think. I think, like, it wasn't. Like, when I was a kid, there was so many people, including me, with eating disorders. And it would it was never, ever put in that same bracket as a mental health issue. It was just something that everyone seemed to have and do and people were nearly competitive about sometimes in school anyway.
Joanne [00:24:44] Big time. And I think, I go, which is probably not that healthy, I assume everyone has an eating disorder and I work back from there.
Annie [00:24:50] Yeah, yeah.
Joanne [00:24:50] Genuinely I really do. Mine just got more out of control than say a lot of people's, which in a way is good because I had to deal with it then. Whereas, had I remained as a functioning bulimic, I'd still be a functioning bulimic to this day.
Annie [00:25:03] Right. Yeah. So in a way, the fact that it went bonkers meant that you had to just, confront it.
Joanne [00:25:09] Yeah, I had to check out of my life and go in and start again. Everything had to change. Everything had to stop. Which in a way is, I think it's kind of- thank God in a way, because like I say, I would have been chipping away at that for the rest of my life I'd say.
Annie [00:25:25] Would you say that your biggest adulthood change? Like coming through that and starting again in a way?
Joanne [00:25:30] There was a lot of change. Like, again, this was a huge time of change. So I had to leave my job. I had to move out of my apartment. I moved back to my mum's and I started into an eating disorder programme and I was just kind of floating around being mad, basically. Because I admitted I was like, okay, I'm bulimic. I was anorexic bulimic. I had the two, I had a really good work ethic. I went with two *Annie laughs*. So I was puking, you know, all that shit was so dark, it was such a dark time. But I think for my family, you're like, they knew what was going on. I wouldn't admit it, and my mum wouldn't let me into the house until I got treatment. So I couldn't visit or anything. And then I ended up sleeping in my office because I couldn't get back to my own house because my housemates knew what was going on. It was a shitshow.
Annie [00:26:14] Wow.
Joanne [00:26:14] So then I was like, okay, look, I've obviously got an eating disorder and everyone was like, yaay and then I think the assumption was it would just stop then because I'd admitted it, and that obviously didn't happen. So then they were- my mother was then living with it, which was not in her plans.
Annie [00:26:31] So when you came out and admitted it, did your mam let you back in or was, did your mam not let you back in till you agreed to go for treatment?
Joanne [00:26:38] So she knew. And then she was like, you have to go for treatment. You can't- yeah. So then I hit rock bottom, as they say, and then it was like, right, she came in, she took me out of the house and she brought me back to her house. And this whole kind of the journey began. And what a journey it was. What a fucking journey it was. But I'm so glad.
Annie [00:26:55] Well done. Well done you for getting over it, I mean when it's that extreme, it's-
Joanne [00:26:59] I know, but like, I'm kind of like that. It's always something. There's like, I'm a bit extreme.
Annie [00:27:04] Yeah, but like, when it's that extreme to come through it, I mean. To come out of it.
Joanne [00:27:08] Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Annie [00:27:09] I mean, I mean, I know it stays with you forever I think when you think in that way, it's hard to kind of come out of that path of thinking about food and control and that kind of thing.
Joanne [00:27:19] It's a very, very slow process because you basically have to re learn how to eat and you have to kind of relearn what is a normal body and how to be in a bigger body without thinking you failed at something, all that stuff, you know. There's a lot of remapping that goes on with your brain and that's just therapy and therapy and therapy and therapy and time and therapy and therapy and therapy and time. I was kind of trying to justify recovery and I really didn't want to recover because recovery to me just meant fat.
Annie [00:27:53] Yeah, and fat meant failure.
Joanne [00:27:55] Fat meant failure, disgusting, yep, failure.
Annie [00:27:57] Yeah, self-loathing.
Joanne [00:27:59] All those things. And I remember being like, okay, look, I obviously have- I kind of have to recover now because I was missing out on my life. Like, I couldn't do anything, you know, I couldn't go for a date, I couldn't, you know, the girls would be going for lunch, I wouldn't do anything, I was just sitting in my room. But to me at the time I was like, I'd rather sit in my room if it means that I can stay at this, looking like a fucking Greyhound dog. I'd rather stay and do that because that's my priority. That's my goal. So all that thinking had to be changed and so it did. It took a long time but thank God. I have to say, like when I think back, I didn't realise how grim it was at the time. I don't mean to make it sound like it's really- but it is a difficult thing to get over because you can't get away from fears or your body.
Annie [00:28:46] No, no, no.
Joanne [00:28:47] You have to look at your body and you have to eat and all those things, you know what I mean. It's you know, it was a tough one but I did it. And I think, I include lads in this now as well, but like so many women I know have a touch or have had very severe.
Annie [00:29:03] Totally, or have it and don't even know they have it.
Joanne [00:29:05] Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Annie [00:29:06] You know, or would have it til they're old. Just say, oh I'm just a funny eater or whatever, you know, it's kind of like, it's all of that, isn't it?
Joanne [00:29:13] And sometimes I even think like, I'll probably get ripped for saying this now, when I see young girls and they're vegan I'm like, sometimes I wonder, is it just, for some of them is it a way of-
Annie [00:29:25] Yeah. Sheilding. Hiding an eating disorder?
Joanne [00:29:27] Yeah, I do. And like, obviously there are people who are vegan for, you know, ethical reasons and it's all legitimate but I do- also, I think being a young girl now, they've much more- all that body positivity like, we grew up in the same time, there's no such thing as body positivity.
Annie [00:29:41] No, there was no such thing.
Joanne [00:29:43] It was, thin was in. You were never thin enough.
Annie [00:29:44] So, I was born in '78, so I was a teenager at the start of the nineties. Like, Heroin chic.
Joanne [00:29:50] Heroin chic, *both say together* Kate Moss.
Annie [00:29:55] All of that like, stick, rake, thin.
Joanne [00:29:56] Yeah. Yeah. Juicy Couture hanging off your rib cage, hanging off your thigh bones. It was bone, bone, bone, bone. Oh, God it was- there was no role mod- do you know like even Lizzo now, and you're like that's so ---, we never had that.
Annie [00:30:09] Yeah, but you know what Joanne, it's so good that you talk about it in such a candid way in your comedy, like now, like just to come out and talk about it and vocalise it, there'll be so many women who are just-
Joanne [00:30:24] It's so common.
Annie [00:30:24] I bet you've had so many messages from people about-
Joanne [00:30:26] I did. So I did a show. So when I was unwelI I used to write, I had this anonymous blog called Eat The Pastry and then a friend of mine sent it to someone in the indo. And then I got a column, but it wasn't about bulimia, it was just a column about whatever was going on. But then a friend of mine, Una Mckevitt, who's gone on to kind of direct most of my shows, she was the one who put- so basically what happened, how it got into comedy then was, so I was doing this programme in Vincent's and floating around, nothing to do and Una was putting on- she works in the arts, she's a director and she was putting on a play called Singlehood, which was the cast, I think it was nine of us and it was half 'real people' in inverted commas, i.e. people who aren't actors.
Annie [00:31:07] Actresses or actors, yeah.
Joanne [00:31:09] And then half comics talking about their love lives. And I had been- this is the maddest thing, when I was unwell, I've never had more boyfriends in my life.
Annie [00:31:20] What?
Joanne [00:31:20] Yeah. Because I always, I was like, this'll fix it babe. This man will fix it
Annie [00:31:25] You were kind of going out trying to find people? Or were they coming to you? Like, how was it-
Joanne [00:31:29] It was a mix. Firstly I look back and I was like, I kind of find it even just upsetting for men that they're told that that physique is attractive when I was like, do you know what I mean? But as well, when I started the programme, I was kind of out partying and stuff because there was no food involved in partying. But anyway, three months and they'd realise I was deranged and they'd be like, you're grand. That was it, every three months, boom, it's over, boom, it's over. Like clockwork.
Annie [00:31:56] Right.
Joanne [00:31:57] And one lad, I was just broken up with by this lad and he was bald and I was fuming and I was telling the story about getting broken up by this bald lad, blah, blah, blah. And then Una was like, just tell that story. And so that's- went into Singlehood and started telling that story, and then there was another comic who saw it and he was like, I think you should do stand-up. And that's kind of how it started. So if I hadn't been unwell, this would never have happened. So in a way I wouldn't change it.
Annie [00:32:22] It's all kind of led to there. So you never had any designs or, like, desires to do stand-up comedy.
Joanne [00:32:27] Nooo!
Annie [00:32:27] Or had it just not occurred to you?
Joanne [00:32:29] It had never occurred. It had never occurred to me. And I was very lucky in that he was very enthusiastic. He was very encouraging. Una was very encouraging. I had a lot of people kind of pushing me along into it, because I mean it's a bananas career choice, who the fuck? you know. And for someone who- I had such a normal job, I was in PR, you know. There was no southside women doing comedy, that I know, maybe I'm wrong but there wasn't. It wasn't really a thing because as I was told, no one will listen to your accent for an hour, which I was told relentlessly.
Annie [00:33:05] Goddd.
Joanne [00:33:05] Yeah, but erm. So, no, that was a total curveball. I just got really lucky. Really lucky with timing and met the right people and, and then just worked hard at it, you know. Once I realised, oh I could actually do this.
Annie [00:33:15] Yeah.
Joanne [00:33:16] And I was like, well I'd much rather, this feels like me now. I was having to do a lot of therapy on myself, figure out what I wanted. I think the bulimia, anorexia was part of an identity crisis that a lot of people- like a lot of people go through that but like who the fuck am I? What do I want? And when I started doing stand-up and I was on the road touring and stuff with other comics, I was like, this is what I want.
[00:33:34] *Short musical interlude*
Annie [00:33:44] Was there a moment in those early years where it all clicked and you felt like you actually could make a career out of it? As opposed to just like, oh I know I want this, but like actually this is viable like.
Joanne [00:33:55] Yeah, I would have to admit, even though sometimes it's not a great side of myself, but I'm quite competitive, like a healthy amount. That's why I had to go back and study for my finals. I feel like if I'm going to do it I need to do it- I'm going to put everything I have into it, if I'm actually going to- if I've made a decision. And so the comedy was kind of like the sociology, I was like right, fuck this, this is what I'm doing now. So everything goes into this. I basically swapped bulimia for stand-up.
Annie [00:34:22] So you swapped, trying to, like, make yourself smaller physically, to like trying to, like, make your career bigger.
Joanne [00:34:31] Yeah. Yeah. So it just put everything into it. So I just did all the shit gigs. I was coming back and fourth- I got signed in the UK, I came over here, I was staying in fucking shit house cat homes basically because I had no money. I was like, I'm just going to make this work now. This is what I'm doing now, yeah. And I was lucky in that, well when I moved to UK, I had no husbands, I had no kids, I could just put everything into comedy and myself basically. Actually a really nice thing to do. And I think even when I started, I used to really struggle with being on my own that much. I was going through a break up at the time, and I would cry on the trains and it was just, I felt so lonely, but the only time I wasn't sad was when I was on stage. But now I'm so mentally robust, my boyfriend's like, can you give me a call or?
Annie [00:35:15] I'm sorry who are you? What's your name?
Joanne [00:35:16] Yeah, I'm like, I've gone completely 180. I am just so comfortable on my own that actually I find it hard to spend time with other people now *Annie laughs*. But I'd much rather this version of myself than the previous version of myself, because I was a bit of a mess, to be honest, yeah.
Annie [00:35:32] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, you got through it, and it sounds like you had to kind of just, like, turn the mirror on yourself and really go through a painful process. But to come out stronger, and more resilient, and more like knowing who you are, I think it takes a fucking long time for people to really know who they are and what they want. A long- and some people can go through their whole life without doing what they really want.
Joanne [00:35:51] Big time.
Annie [00:35:52] Being forced to do that. As awful and painful as it was, it's kind of worked out in a really positive way.
Joanne [00:35:59] And you know what's so interesting? I was kind of the mess when we were in our twenties you know, with my friends and stuff and they were- seemed to know their shit and they were making really sensible decisions and they were getting married and they had long term boyfriends and all that stuff, but then now some of them are a bit like what I was like in my twenties. They're a bit like, shit is this it? Did I jump too quick, did I make- and I'm glad that I actually, because again the commitment phobia has, I am a bit of a commitment phobe. That I'm still, I keep saying single, I'm not single, but like in my brain like that I'm-
Annie [00:36:31] You've got the single mind, you've got it in your mind that you are that person yeah.
Joanne [00:36:34] I think I'm a single soul, do you know what I mean? I think I'm a single soul. But erm, I'm glad that I've kind of kept myself respon- I've no responsibilities, only myself. And my new boyfriend, he's new. I have a responsibility to him now, of course. But I've no mortgage, I've no kids. I can travel around.
Annie [00:36:53] Oh my God, and so to all your friends who are married with kids and literally like, stuck, trapped, that's like, H-ahhhh, like the idea of having no responsibilities.
Joanne [00:37:04] Yeah! Some of them are happy, but some of them are like, I'd love a bit of that, I'd love a bit of what you have. But if you told me when I was 22, you're still going to be single at 39 with no house, no kids. I would have been like- I would have seen that as a failure, but now I actually see it as a win.
Annie [00:37:19] Yeah. I think it's part of growing up, isn't it? It's like realising like all of these things that you're told societally, you know, sociology student here, like, yes, there's a pathway to success and to happiness and it involves partners and children and marriage and university and all of that. And then you get to a point, you're like it's all fucking bullshit.
Joanne [00:37:37] I know.
Annie [00:37:40] It's total bullshit. I've been asked by my school to go back and give out prizes for the sixth years. Wesley.
Joanne [00:37:49] *Gasps* Wesley was the kind of the cool, the cool posh school. Were you mixed?
Annie [00:37:53] Oh mixed, totally mixed. So all my brothers and sisters, my brothers and sister, we all went there. I was the last. But yeah. So going back, giving out prizes based on the fact that I didn't do what I originally like wanted to do. I don't know. I think when you're young or even when you're like in your twenties, I think you think that life is just going to take this one very simple path and it's like, you might not want to be a comedian in ten years. You might change your mind and want to be a chef. And that's exciting, knowing that anything can change.
Joanne [00:38:22] Totally.
Annie [00:38:23] Well, you're going to write aren't you? You've got a book deal. This is exciting.
Joanne [00:38:25] I've a book deal, yeah. So erm *laughing* yeah I have a book deal. My poor publisher. She's like, err you booked another gig, any sign of the book? No. Any sign of it? I see you're going to Dubai, any sign of the book? *Annie laughs* Ermm, yeah. So I'm going to write a book.
Annie [00:38:42] What's the book about? It's essays is it?
Joanne [00:38:45] It's essays, yeah. So that's the kind of stuff I read. I read female centric essays.
Annie [00:38:51] Have you read Emily Pine? Her book.
Joanne [00:38:52] Yes! Love it. I love a bit of Nora Ephron, that kind of thing.
Annie [00:38:56] Yeah, yeah.
Joanne [00:38:58] I'm not comparing myself to her. I just, that's what I like reading. That's what I want to write. Yeah, yeah.
Annie [00:39:03] Oh, I can't wait.
Joanne [00:39:04] You know what's interesting, just going back to what we were saying before. Obviously I've met a guy now called Alan and he's amazing. But I honestly think if I were single for the rest of my life, as in I kind of thought that that was what was going to happen. And I was kind of grand with it.
Annie [00:39:19] Yeah, but that's what they all say, as soon as you're cool and you're not looking for it, it comes along!
Joanne [00:39:25] Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. But I see, I see the benefits to pedaling your own canoe, as they say.
Annie [00:39:33] Yeah, I think it's a sign of a very healthy relationship when you are, you don't need people in a way to be happy. You know, you can be happy on your own two feet. They enhance your happiness, but they don't define it like.
Joanne [00:39:44] Exactly. And that's what I think is- this is probably the healthiest relationship I've ever had because we don't need each other.
Annie [00:39:51] Yeah. Yeah.
Joanne [00:39:53] You know, even emo- emotionally.
Annie [00:39:53] You've both got your own thing?
Joanne [00:39:54] Yeah, exactly. We've got our own thing going on, it's nice.
Annie [00:39:57] Well, I'm delighted for you. It's great.
[00:39:58] *Short musical interlude*.
Annie [00:39:58] Joanne, what change to yourself or to the world around you, would you still like to make?
Joanne [00:40:14] Oooooo oooh. Well I'll go local, I'll go small. I could get into climate change, but I mean why, why depress us all. My biggest want in life is a dog *laughs*.
Annie [00:40:27] And? Can't you get one?
Joanne [00:40:28] No, I can't get one because-
Annie [00:40:29] Because you're on tour too much?
Joanne [00:40:30] Yeah, I travel too much for work. So my biggest sadness to date so far is that I haven't been able to have a dog, so that's something I would like to change. I would love to own a load of dogs. I have a farm fantasy. Do you have a farm fantasy?
Annie [00:40:43] No, I don't, but tell me.
Joanne [00:40:43] I do. Yeah, I have a farm fantasy where I like, own a house in the countryside in the middle of nowhere. Just loads of animals. Couple of llamas. Me just kind of, I dunno, eating jam, cycling a penny farthing through the town *Annie laughs*. I have this kind of old school farm fantasy. It's just me and a load of animals living our lives.
Annie [00:41:02] My sister's just bought two pigs.
Joanne [00:41:05] *Gasps*.
Annie [00:41:05] They're called Luigi and Smudge. Kunekune pigs, like pet pigs. She's living your fantasy.
Joanne [00:41:14] The name, Luigi's such a high end name. And then Smudge.
Annie [00:41:17] And Smudge, yeah. Oh my God. They're amazing.
Joanne [00:41:18] Where does she keep them?
Annie [00:41:19] She has a garden and she just has like a, an area in the garden that she's fenced off, and they just live in there. I went to visit her over the summer and they're so affectionate. They're so sweet and they're so clever. And she brings them for walks like dogs.
Joanne [00:41:33] Noooo.
Annie [00:41:33] Yeah, yeah.
Joanne [00:41:33] Where does she live?
Annie [00:41:37] You should get some some pigs, Joanne.
Joanne [00:41:38] Imagine me with two pigs in my roof, my roof in Clapham where I live.
Annie [00:41:42] *Laughs* she lives in, she lives in Ennis in County Clare.
Joanne [00:41:45] Okay. So she's got a bit of land, she's got a bit of space. So that's what I would like to change. I would like some sort of farm fantasy animals. Me and Alan milking and a cow and-
Annie [00:41:55] If Alan and you end up shacking up together, you could get a dog if he was willing to walk it and when you're away.
Joanne [00:42:00] Big time, that's what I'm kind of, I'm kind of buttering him up for that now, so we'll see. But I do love animals. And like, pigs, can you believe people eat them?
Annie [00:42:09] No, I can't. My mam grew up in a pig farm. So we've been vegetarian all our lives because she's had to watch the pigs come and go.
Joanne [00:42:18] Yeah. Oh God. I remember linda McCartney saying if slaughterhouses had windows, we'd all be vegetarians. I try my best. I try my best. I don't eat red meat and I don't eat pig. I don't eat pork at all. They're so smart.
Annie [00:42:31] They're so, so smart. Apparently they have the same intellectual like capacity as a three year old kid.
Joanne [00:42:39] Yeah! They can use joysticks and all. I'm always reading about pigs.
Annie [00:42:43] *Laughs* I love your hyperfocuses on ---
Joanne [00:42:49] I love going down a hole, do you know what I mean? I've gone down a pig hole every now and again and they feel, they fear and everything. They know they're going to be killed.
Annie [00:42:55] Their squeals are so different like, the different sounds and the different grunts off them meaning different- Like I was only there for three or four days, but at the end of it I was kind of reading, there's a language there.
Joanne [00:43:04] Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Annie [00:43:06] Anyway, listen, Joanne McNally, before you go, tell me what the plan is for the rest of the year. So we're halfway through the year now.
Joanne [00:43:13] Yes.
Annie [00:43:14] What's going on for the end of 2022?
Joanne [00:43:16] Basically just gigging straight through now till December.
Annie [00:43:18] Okay. Is there still tickets on sale? Can people come and see you?
Joanne [00:43:21] Yes, for the UK dates, there are still tickets on sale. And I think there's actually some tickets for the last Vicar Street. Yeah, no there are, there's tickets. And I'm going everywhere, I'm going to like Yeovil and I'm going to Perth and Scotland and it's all on my website Joannemcnally.com. Loads and loads of dates.
Annie [00:43:35] Okay. Well listen, thank you so much for your time. I'm so glad we got there and we managed to have this chat. I really appreciate it.
Joanne [00:43:42] Thanks so much. I really enjoyed it, thank you.
Annie [00:43:48] Thank you so much to Joanne McNally, absolute legend. Do go check out My Therapist Ghosted Me and do go check out Joanne on tour. Head to Joannemcnally.com as she said, we'll put a link to that website in the show notes and let me know what you thought. Spread this around. Anyone you know who likes the My Therapist Ghosted Me podcast. Tell your friends, family. Subscribe to the new season as well because we have so much in store for you, such brilliant guests to come. And also, if you like this, you might enjoy going back and listening to some other amazing comics we've had in the past on Changes. Joe Lycett in the last series, Romesh Ranganathan and Jimmy Carr. Some of the biggest and best in their field. Right, also need to highlight if you don't know, there was a transcript of each episode of Changes on my website. We do this for the hard of hearing. If you know anyone who is deaf and would like to consume Changes, do please let them know, there's a link in the show notes to that. And we are going to be back next Monday with a very, very special guest. This episode of Changes was produced by Louise Mason through DIN Productions. See you next week.