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Mo Gilligan is riding the waves of his social media fame

Mo Gilligan’s imminent Australian debut will cap off an enormous 18 months for the British comic. 

The ‘Coupla Cans’ tour has been selling out venues in the UK for over a year, beginning in a 1000-capacity room in Birmingham and wrapping up with 14-straight nights in London’s esteemed West End. 

“It’s quite cool doing what I’ve always dreamt to do,” says Gilligan. “When we do the shows, we start off with a room that might have 200, then we have a room that’s got 400. Now we’re in a room that’s got 700. Been doing this a long time, I can see my fanbase growing and more people coming out and more people want to come to the shows.”

Gilligan’s been grinding away for the better part of a decade, but the London comedian’s major breakthrough didn’t come until early 2017. Sharing satirical videos on his social media accounts, Gilligan was able to appeal to a whole new audience including musicians Drake and Stormzy. 

The low-budget sketches see Gilligan embodying a host of characters including guys at the gym, people out clubbing, rappers and typical English lads. Character comedy is a feature of Gilligan’s live show too, but it’s not the sole focus.

“We give them some of the characters that they might see online,” he says. “But at the same time, sometimes you’ve got to give them something they didn’t even expect. That’s the cool thing with the show – they see parts of the characters or sometimes the inspiration behind the characters, but I can’t replicate what I do online for a live show because it’s a different experience. 

“I think because it is my first tour that’s quite a cool concept to have. Normally you see a comedian on a big show or you see them on some panel shows and you know what to expect. But with my audience, some people have come from online stuff, some people come from TV, some have heard reviews. So they’re all coming and nobody knows what to expect.”

Going from relative obscurity to performing in big theatres – including a spot at London’s 5000-seat Royal Albert Hall in May – Gilligan had to quickly grow accustomed to the new environment. 

“I always like an intimate room, I like a small room of 200 people,” he says. “So if we play to 3000 people we need to give them that same feeling. Even though there’s 3000, you still need to make it intimate. That’s when I start looking at things like the lighting, the sound, how I talk, how I do all my timings. Moving into bigger rooms, we were just trying to replicate the feeling I always had in smaller rooms.”

Gilligan’s physical versatility was evident during his performances on The Russell Howard Hour and Comedy Central’s Stand Up Central. His command of the stage is an integral part of his comedy. 

“When I tell certain jokes I go to certain places on the stage because I know the rhythms and beats to hit,” says Gilligan. “It is a little bit like dancing at times.

“When I was at uni I used to do performing arts and theatre production. So I’d always use the skills that I learnt from that for comedy. A lot of things you learn when you’re doing performing arts, like not blocking yourself and being centre stage, I just put those things into my comedy. Using your body to tell a story rather than speech, being really animated or saying something softly spoken; they’re all techniques I learned from performing arts.”

A lot of Gilligan’s best-known characters are based on quintessentially British personality types and subcultures. The cultural specificity will remain for the Australian tour. 

“I think if I change it up it wouldn’t be true to me. So it is keeping the essence of what it
is. Hopefully it gets people understanding where I’m from.”

Mo Gilligan brings his ‘Coupla Cans’ tour to the Athenaeum Theatre on Friday November 23. Grab your ticks via Ticketek.