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HOW AISLING BEA MAKES LIFE'S DARK SIDE A LAUGHING MATTER; New comedy This Way Up may deal with tough issues but that doesn't mean it can't still be full of jokes, as Georgia Humphreys discovers.

LONELINESS, mental health issues, struggling in the pursuit of happiness; the subject matter of This Way Up is far from light.

And yet, the new Channel 4 comedy is, at times, a side-splitting watch.

Irish stand-up star Aisling Bea - who's written the show and also plays protagonist Aine - was bored with such issues being talked about in a "maudlin" way, and wanted to show you don't lose your humour when dealing with tough situations.

ON O SMALL SCREEN The actress - also known for roles in shows such as The Fall and Gap Year - took the same approach when writing an article for The Guardian in 2017 about her father's suicide. She was three when he died.

"I wanted full-on jokes in there (the article), and I want jokes in this show," says the 35-year-old, whose real name is Aisling Cliodhnadh O'Sullivan.

"You can create a safe space and not be unattractive for talking about something...

THE TE You're not going to ruin the dinner party, you're not going to bring everyone down.

"It doesn't make you not-funny. It doesn't make you lose all the bits of yourself. You don't become defined by that narrative either - there are all the other bits of you. So that's what I wanted to show with the show, I suppose."

The six-part series follows Irish immigrant Aine, who works as an English-as-aforeign-language (TEFL) teacher in London, attempting to rebuild her life after a "teeny little nervous breakdown", with the help of her sister Shona, played by Catastrophe's Sharon Horgan.

Asked where inspiration for the lead character came from, Aisling reveals: "I think a little bit myself and Sharon, I think a little bit myself and my sister, I think a little bit myself and my best friend Bronagh.

In terms of the serious topics the show looks at, does she feel pressure to represent someone's experience of mental health issues responsibly? "No, actually," Aisling replies, pausing to think about her answer.

"I take responsibility for myself. But I think I had to lean in to knowing my intentions were good. It could still come out and trigger people in a bad way and I'm absolutely up for listening to that, if that's something that comes up.

"But it's something I talk about regularly in public spaces, sometimes five times a week on stage, so I had a kinda good gauge, I think, of what people can handle, and what people should maybe handle and hear about more."

"In terms of responsibility, I'm in the world too, so I wanted to do it a bit for myself, so there were certain things I definitely wanted to be careful with showing," she continues, thoughtfully.

"There'd be a joke and I'm like, 'No, we can't edit that because we need that because that's a kindness there, and you need to leave that in, to show the complexity of that person' - little things like that."

Aisling has that down-toearth quality about her where, well, you just want her to be your friend.

It's the same way, I suggest, viewers will feel about Aine.

to which she responds: "Oh that's so lovely. Do you know what a journalist said to me the other day? 'The thing about you Aisling, you've got that lovely everyman quality'."

'." She laughs: "And I'm like, 'I don't think I do. I decided not to model professionally, I'm not an everyman. I'm a star, OK?"| This Way Up starts on Channel 4 on Thursday, August 8 at 10pm
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Aug 2, 2019
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