Tony Cantwell: a comedian’s guide to online influencing

Adam Daly

From ‘The Dublin Frenchman’ to ‘Your Ma’s Mate’, Tony Cantwell’s characters have generated over four million views for him on his social platforms.

Since Cantwell posted his ‘Meanwhile in Clongowes’ sketch in December 2016, his audience has continued to grow.

But long before his sketch of the thirsty Iasc, Neen and Ploon in Clongowes and their need for a soft drink, before the memes and merchandise the video spawned, making videos was something Tony had been doing from a young age.

‘’I’d been making silly short videos for years. Had a mini-DV camera when I was (15 or 16) and me and my mates used to just make shitty remakes of Good Will Hunting and The Matrix. We actually made a flick about a passport we found that turned out to be Dublin GAA player Bernard Brogan’s.’’

‘’But it really changed when Instagram let you upload videos, couldn’t stop after that. It was just so easy to do, it was fairly disposable in that it would disappear from everyone’s feed in a matter of hours. YouTube, even though I love it, always seemed so daunting, like you had to have some finished quality piece and if you’ve seen my videos you’ll know they look like complete dog sh*t.’’ Cantwell said.

After not making’s top 500 social influencers, Tony posts on his social media regularly to say he loves free swag, but as he’s a comedian and not an ‘influencer’ he can’t guarantee a positive review, except when he’s supporting a friend.

‘’It’s a fairly on-the-nose term isn’t it? INFLUENCER! I don’t begrudge anyone who can make a living for being sent free swag and chatting about it, fair f*cks to them. But it’s really just some girl or guy with a phone chatting the same shite you do except loads of people are watching.’

‘’ The lighters (featured on Cantwells Snapchat) were a collab between my friend Kathi Burke aka Fatti Burke and BIC, so I got sent them and was happy to throw a video up about it. She’s a talented lady with her pics on a lighter like! I steal complimentary napkins from posh jacks when they’re really nice so I love free swag. But I’m not guaranteeing any positive review as a result.’’

‘’As for sponsored content I don’t begrudge anyone getting paid for making comedy when it’s so difficult, but sponsored videos aren’t ever going to be conducive to the best videos you can make and you can only do so many ads before you stop being a conduit for the truth. But I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future, the majority of our online content is consumed through sponsored content. Sponsored web channels by brands looking to align with a lifestyle, who may even give full creative control, I wouldn’t rule it out.’’ Cantwell said.

Tony’s latest project is the podcast Sexy Beast, with Marc Jago on The HeadStuff Podcast Network.

The weekly podcast sees the pair discuss and compare the flaws and merits of creatures from all across the ‘cryptid spectrum’, this week looking at the Kappa from Japan, an aquatic wrestling deviant.

‘’We wanted to do a podcast on something that we’d enjoy learning about each week but also something vague enough that we wouldn’t get in trouble for being ignorant. Jago I’ve known for years, is a gas chap, has an in-depth knowledge of the maddest sh*t, and there’s been many a drunken party where we’ve been talking about the Reptilian Illuminati, Aliens or the different choirs of Angels.’

‘’You may notice that we keep the synopsis of the creature quite short and spend most of the show talking about how good we think it can fight, so we never have to give any solid facts, just what we think.’’

Tony is now moving into live comedy and has two sell out shows in the Sugar Club this month and looking forward to announcing a few more soon.

‘’Nothing gives you such instant gratification as a live laugh so I’m taking any chance I can to get up on stage.’’

Despite the sell out shows and the number one podcast, Tony never expected the response he’s received, in particular to his ‘Meanwhile in Clongowes’ video.

‘’Sure, I thought it was funny and didn’t quite know why, and I wasn’t even going to put it out but I thought there’s enough laughs in there for me that I just will. But Jesus, I didn’t expect how people responded. Delighted they did of course, and off the back of it really spurred me on to do something with the videos and the page and that.

‘’Also to have entered meme culture, that’s peak for me like. I’ve had like seven or eight people order me cans of coke at the bar, and it’s class. Free can of coke like, y’messin? Laughin’’’



Adam Daly


Image Credit: The Sugar Club