Stage Mums |

7 mins

Stage Mums

Four years ago, two native Corkonians, PJ Kirby and Kevin Twomey, sat down to record the very first episode of I’m Grand Mam. The pair shared with Elliott Salmon how an idea, developed on the back of an aeroplane sick bag while they sipped on-flight red wine, transformed into a massively successful podcast and an upcoming live tour.

When PJ and Kevin came up with the idea for their podcast they were both living in London, and sourced inspiration for the show’s name from their habit of reassuring their mammies - who were worried sick about them over in the big shmoke.

“It was born out of this incessant need from our mammy’s to know that we're doing okay," explaind Kevin. "Obviously, when we moved to London, initially, and we were working different jobs, no matter how we were doing or even if we felt lonely, we would always just let on that we were doing fine… Our podcast, and you can put this in print, is a love letter to our mammies.”

PJ and Kevin’s energy is infectious. I met them both (virtually) on a Wednesday afternoon and was immediately brought in to their dynamic duo. They had just finished up an interview with a local radio station and were ever so slightly traumatised by a misunderstood game of 'Yay Or Nay'...

Kevin explained, “I thought the first thing they said was the Pope needs to make a comeback to Facebook so I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, get the Pope on Facebook! It'd be a laugh to see him post embarrassing shit’ and then afterwards, I realised that they were on about bringing the 'poke' back!”

The two pals are currently preparing to go on a nationwide tour, appropriately titled, That’s Showbiz this summer and let me tell you, dear reader, this is going to be their best one yet! They will be swinging by Dublin's 3Olympia, Belfast’s Mandela Hall, Cork’s Opera House, Galway’s Town Hall Theatre and Limerick’s Lime Tree Theatre.

PJ and Kevin have been friends since their University College Cork days and despite all of the adventures and experiences they’ve had together, they still find themselves learning new things about one another each time they sit down to record their podcast episodes.

“I think what happens is, we learn about stories that would generally come up when we're together as friends but we learn them quicker and in more detail,” PJ shared. “I know the majority of Kevin's childhood now because I've heard of it on the podcast and through him and he knows mine. I don't know would you ever learn about your best friend's life in that deep amount of detail.”

We spoke about how having a conversation with one another on a podcast is enormously different to speaking to one another in real life. There is an allocation of time set aside for both friends to learn even more about one another and, in many ways, talk each other through many important aspects of their lives.

“It feels like couples therapy or something like that,” added PJ. “I have a lot of close friends, but I do find me and Kevin's friendship to be a really special, unique type of friendship because we've been together for so long and spend so much time talking to each other. I do think that'd be hard to recreate with anyone else because there's been so much that was put into it.”

When asked if I’m Grand Mam has influenced their relationship with their queerness, they each offered a beautiful insight on how they have discovered success naturally by being themselves- two out and proud gay men.

“It's definitely helped me to sit into my queerness more," Kevin elaborated, "Just because the podcast is us, as two gay men talking about our lives, and even though not every story is related to us being gay, or it's not about boys, we built a whole brand and we built a career for ourselves on being out and proud gay men so I've recognised that there's power in that and that there's been success in it for us.”

The response to their inspiring podcast has been immensely heartwarming for the pair who tell me about the countless DM’s they receive from listeners who have found comfort in their words. PJ and Kevin have become role models for many queer folks across the nation, and they don’t take any of that for granted.

“We made the conscious decision to never mask up or shy away from who we are," PJ said, "Which I think is lovely for people listening and who message us afterwards and are like, ‘I feel less alone’ or ‘From listening to the podcast, I feel like I might be able to come out now’ or people who aren't queer being like, ‘I understand my kids more’.”

With their highly-anticipated tour fast approaching, we talked about what audience members can expect from the pair as they transfer from podcast mics to stage mics. They tell me how their show will be different from their podcast episodes and how much of a party it’ll be.

PJ explained “I think it's different because our live shows aren't really a podcast, they're more of a show. We're not sitting down talking over a table, we're doing dance numbers with a song, we're getting the audience involved, outfit changes etc. It's our biggest show yet! We love inviting people in for that thing because it's like a party, it's less of me and Kevin sitting down talking about childhood drama, it's more like we're sitting hosting a party with each other.”

The podcasting duo originally trained in performance-Kevin in musical theatre and PJ in dance-and the excitement to return to their roots is palpable. They’re buzzing to be in front of a live audience again, to feel the adrenaline of applause and most of all, to see their fans in person.

“We're both showmen once we have that audience behind us. Typically when we're saying something funny, it's just the other person laughing. Obviously, that's reassuring and gives you a bit of a kick, but when it's an audience of 500 people or however many are going to be in Cork and Dublin, that's what I live for! Lady Gaga said it best-A-P-P-L-A-U-S-E!”

The attention that I’m Grand Mam has gained since its conception has been immense. Their first Dublin date sold out so quickly that they added another night due to popular demand- a massive achievement indeed.

“We both trained for it," Kevin explained. "I suppose you might think that because we're doing podcasting, it's part of our everyday lives, that it's not part and parcel with the job but, the fact that this is something that we've trained for, it's the reason we moved to England. Even though we're not doing Wicked on the West End, we're doing our own version of that.”

They have even more creative control this time around. The torch has been placed entirely in their hands, and they have loved it.

“It's nice to be involved in the show from conception to performance, to be involved in every aspect," Kevin continued. "I don't know any other friends who I trained with, who would have as much knowledge putting a show together as we would and these are friends who are doing gigs, going on tours, whereas we do it all.”

Whilst we couldn’t possibly spoil the surprise of what’s to come with PJ and Kevin’s upcoming tour, that didn’t stop them both from exploring all possible performance numbers in a live brainstorm.

“There's tricks for dogs, there's a shark, you know when you used to go on holidays and there was a magician that used to always put someone in a box, there's gonna be that-That's Showbiz! There's going to be really quick costume changes like rapid-speed costume changes. Also, I'm going to be doing several Anastasia covers whilst being strung over a tank of live piranhas and we call that section Pir-Anastasia," Kevin quipped.

Above all, PJ explains, “It's gonna be camp, it's going to be sexy, and it's going to be funny. Those are the three vibes to be sharing.”

That’s Showbiz kicks off on May 27 and just as I let the duo return to preparing their performance numbers, Kevin expresses what he is most excited about touring with his performance partner in crime again.

“It's everything we just spoke about, the podcast is such fun, the two of us sitting down chatting to each other, we have a laugh every time we do it, and transferring that onto a stage and having a lot of people in on it, the applause. There'll be a lot of improv happening in the shows as well. That's exciting because it keeps you on your toes… I just feel like that's stuff I've always really enjoyed so it'd be nice to put those muscles to use again.”

For more information on the That’s Showbiz 2024 tour, be sure to check out

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