If necessity is considered to be the mother of invention then perhaps boredom is its father. This is the surely the case for online comedian and Navan man Matthew Dinneen who might be better known by his twitter name Michael Fry, who a little over a year after he started posting funny videos online has found his life following a path he never could have imagined it taking.
“I was doing a grad programme for Tourism Ireland and was based in Coleraine for a year and after which I was supposed to go to New York. However, I found myself getting bored because there wasn’t much to do in the evenings. So I started making short videos and posting them on twitter, just to entertain myself really. Some of them started to do well and gather a lot of traction, particularly one called Girl talk, where I do a skit of a radio host talking about women’s issues but there are no women on the panel, which is a common enough occurence in Ireland (the three guests are the Green Party’s Eamonn Ryan, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and Senator Ronan Mullen…)
” I find Irish radio is very formatted so my videos take a swipe at that. They start off in that formatted manner but all of a sudden I drop a bizarre element in.
I did one called Derry/LondonDerry, which I initially wasn’t going to post on to twitter because I felt it was too weird, but I just said decided to post it. I didn’t think it would get many views, but when I checked my phone again it had taken off and even the Rubberbandits had retweeted it”.
Everything took off from there, and Matthew’s twitter following grew from a modest 480 followers, to where it stands today at 14,800 which includes some high profile followers such as comedians Kevin Bridges and David’ O Dotherty.
However this new found fame brought a few drawbacks with it.
“The video was a bit controversial because I refer to the Northern Ireland parades in it” Matthew continues, “so I decided to change my twitter name to Michael Fry just to protect myself. People actually thought my name was Michael, to such an extent that people at work were calling me it”.
While being a twitter personality is a straightforward concept for young people today, it’s not universally understood especially with non Twitter users. “I had to ring my parents to explain to them what was after happening. They were concerned that I was going to mess up my grad programme, which was pretty competitive to get into, but I showed the videos to my boss and he thought it was funny and told me to keep making them.
The grad programme didn’t work out in the end but it didn’t interfere with the former St Pats student’s career prospects, who found himself in demand from other companies as a result of his online work
“I spent a short while working for Balls.ie and the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham before I was approached by Niall McGarry, businessman and owner of Maximum Media, who run websites such as Joe.ie and Her.ie. I had already been on their radar as they had done an article in the past and he asked me would I be interested in joining, which I was delighted with, it felt really good to be sought after. I interviewed for a job running their social media platforms, which I got and I’ve done lots of work with them since, including my own new sketch show called ” Big Dirty Frydays”
This new platform, coupled with a loyal Twitter fanbase has increased Matthew’s profile considerably, to such an extent that he now gets recognised in public. “Getting recognised in public is weird, when I was at Electric Picnic I couldn’t go five yards without people stopping me. Just last week when I was buying my mam a mothers day card I was asked was I Michael Fry and the shop worker called over all his co-workers to say hello, I was just like let me out of here!” I also still find it uncomfortable watching people watch my material though, especially if I’m in a social setting and someone whips out a smartphone and shows it to someone.
Most people who work in the entertainment industry go through the more traditional channels and then progress online. but Matthew has done things the opposite way. ” There’s no template for what I’m doing he says, not many have done it. Tony Cantwell is one example of somebody who has done it and he’s doing comedy gigs now and filling rooms. Stand-up comedy is something I would be interested in but it’s completely different to what I’m doing at the minute. The timing is completely different and I don’t know how I would be able to deal with hecklers.”
While he isn’t ready to dive into the world of stand-up comedy just
yet, showbiz has presented him with other options to help his career
” I was asked to to MC at a local GAA ” Strictly Come Dancing” event recently which I said no to because I’ve never hosted anything before. I’ve also been on radio shows (keep your ears peeld on 2fm in the coming days), and podcasts, such as The Alison Spittle Show.”
As Matthew sets his sights on the future he acknowledges what a remarkable year it’s been for him. ” This time last year I was still working for Tourism Ireland and was meant to be going to New York”, he laughs, “I never expected to be in this position, I’m definitely much happier where I am. In the future, I’d love to act and do a bit of writing. I’d love to carry out a lifetime ambition of appearing on a panel show such as Eight Out of Ten Cats or Mock the Week.“
Matthew’s tips for anybody who is trying to start off is simple “Be yourself. Make yourself laugh, don’t force it, if you don’t find it funny, the chances are nobody else will”. Sound advice, and judging from his own success, he practices what he preaches and it’s paying dividends.