Stand-up about ‘invisible women’

Dublin-based Maxine Jones kicks off the UK tour of her show Invisible Woman at the Other Place Brighton on January 23.

As she admits, she is a bit of a surprise in Dublin clubs more used to shouty, slightly-crude young male comics.

“That can work to my advantage,” says 58-year-old Maxine. “My sons, in their 20s, are mortified that I do comedy. But I’ve long rebelled against them.

“My first Edinburgh show in 2012 was called Embarrassing Mother. I would embarrass them as soon as I opened my mouth. Mainly because I’m English and they’re all born in Dublin.

“My current show is called Invisible Woman. As you get older, as a woman, you definitely become more invisible.

“When I was flyering the show in Edinburgh, I would focus on older women, saying ‘Do you want to see a show about how older women turn invisible.’ One old lady took me literally. ‘Really,’ she said. ‘How?’ I’ve some lovely dates lined up. As well as the Other Place, I’ll be at the Leicester Square Theatre London, the Palace Theatre Redditch and the Rondo, Bath, as well as a few festivals.

“I also seek out quirky gigs. I’m doing one at a mother and toddler group in Sheffield and one for the Active Retired in Foxrock, Dublin.”

Maxine runs a comedy club in Blackrock, Dublin, upstairs at the Wicked Wolf, every Tuesday fortnight.

“It’s been going four years now, which isn’t bad given the frequency with which new clubs open and close. It’s a free night that gives established acts a chance to try out new material and is also a platform for brand new acts. I particularly encourage women to get up and have a go – just to balance things out a bit.”

Maxine came to comedy late in life, though she’d always been a fan. She studied French at Durham University and worked as an EFL teacher and secretary in northern Italy and Paris before settling in London. Here she worked for Methuen publishers, several magazines (including the launch issue of Hello) and for the BBC, before leaving a staff job at the Independent to move to Dublin on a whim in 1990. Mercier published her book Successful Irish Businesswomen in 1992.

Working on the Sunday Tribune she met the father of her three sons, whom she divorced in 1996, when divorce was introduced to Ireland. She set up her own magazine, Suburb, from home and worked as a freelance columnist, reviewer and travel writer.

She has cycled from Turkey through Syria, the Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Egypt; and around south India; drove an old VW Scirocco across the Sahara to the Gambia; and a Citroen 2CV over the Atlas mountains to Morocco and back.

Mostly during these years, she was trying to keep the house clean and the boys fed and out of trouble.

Now they are reared Maxine is focusing on writing and performing comedy and is busy preparing for her third Edinburgh show.

“I’ll probably call it Full Circle,” she said. “I’m interested in how little we learn over a lifetime and in the circular nature of practically everything. This is in line with my wish to return to England, which I’ve spent most of my life rejecting, but which I’ve recently come to appreciate.”

Invisible Woman will be at the Other Place Brighton on January 23. Visit www.max or