Alumni Corner - The return of ‘How to be cool with Conor O’Toole’

I'm a stand-up comedian who didn't go to UCD. But one time I was asked to do a show in the student centre for some dumb society called Dutch Soc. It was a terrible show and I'm still unclear if they were actually affiliated with the Netherlands or whether they were actually, as they claimed, 'the Dutch Gold appreciation society'. Either way, I assume they are now defunct. Good riddance. As fate would have it, the University Observer Christmas party was on downstairs and my buddy Jon Hozier-Byrne invited me in. The writers and editors were a pleasant bunch and when I found out they paid their designer my interest was piqued. Then I saw the current design and thought, that'll be a doddle. I'd be laughing myself to the bank.Boy, was the joke on me. Turns out, forty-four pages of content don't lay themselves out, and it's actually really hard work. Writing and editing small things for the paper is class craic but actually working on production weekends can be pretty hellish. It's a mad marathon that runs from Friday afternoon to 10am on Monday morning. After a few issues you get pretty good at it, and then you fully lose your marbles.I remember after we'd sent the newspaper to print one Monday morning during Volume 18 we just sat there in the office, Jon, Kate, and I and laughed deliriously at videos of monkeys online, as some well-meaning and well rested journalists wandered in to see how the big wigs had fared over the weekend. They had fared poorly. More than once I fell asleep on my cycle home. I actually designed the paper for two years, because I couldn't find another job with so few hours that let me drink at my desk. But now I'm out. I'm not designing newspapers any more, but last year I performed a show in the Dublin Fringe in which I made a paper with a live audience as my staff in an hour, and was somewhat based on those wild weekends. It was critically acclaimed and I am now famous and successful.Those were genuinely two of the happiest years of my life, and they remain the closest to a proper job I have ever had. If you learn how to set type and love working all weekend, this too could be yours. Or, you could just do the fun bit where you write and interview people and investigate stuff. Yeah, start with that.