A couple of months ago, I became a proud new member of the Vox Populi Toastmasters Club in Dublin. Although I haven’t been able to attend every single meeting (damn you work! ruining my fun!) I’ve been learning so much and have gotten to know a great group of people.
Last week I made my very first speech at a meeting. Every toastmaster does an “Icebreaker” speech to get started. Usually, it’s about yourself and it serves as a 4-6 minute introduction. I made mine last week and it was a number of things: nerve wracking, terrifying and overall brilliant experience.
I’ve been on the stage for as long as I can remember! I started ballet when I was three years old and have done lots of plays and musicals since! But getting up at a public speaking club, in front of a room of adults, talking about my life – OH MY FRICKEN GOD. I thought my knees were going to fall off they were shaking so much. However, I think I managed to mask my mind numbing fear (its the actress in me!) and remembered the entire speech without notes!
So without further ado, my icebreaker entitled: “The Susan Doyle Show”
Good evening Mr. Toastmaster, Members and Guests, you’re all very welcome to “The Susan Doyle Show”. May I take this opportunity to remind you to switch off all mobile phones and the use of cameras including recording devices are strictly prohibited in the theatre. Also please take note of your nearest emergency exit.
The performance will consist of three acts – act one: New York, New York, act two: The Show Must Go On, and act three: Radio Gaga. There will be no intermission, so sit back, relax and learn about three significant parts of my life.
Frank Sinatra once sang “I’m gonna make a brand new start of it in Old New York” and that’s just what my Irish parents decided to do back in 1994 when I was seven. They worried about me adjusting to American life, but before they knew it, I had traded crisps for potato chips and runners for sneakers, I even had a Brooklyn accent. I knew I had totally blended in when in fifth grade I was chosen from two hundred other students to hold the American Flag at assemblies and special occasions. The process involved a ten year old me leading an honour guard onto a stage each morning with a flag twice my size and commanding an auditorium of children to pledge allegiance! [pause] I watched baseball, went to my junior prom, and loved high school but at home – we were typical paddys. My Dad took the piss out of the yanks on a daily basis, my mum complained that the chocolate just wasn’t the same and right up until the day we moved, we totally ignored Thanksgiving – we used to have chinese actually!
When we left in 2004, I cried for a week but in hindsight moving to Ireland was probably the best thing that ever happened to me.
I’m not really sure who first said “the show must go on” but its a sentiment that I found very useful in more ways than one during the moving process. At seventeen it was really horrible having my first day of school all over again – but it turns out Irish teenagers are incredibly interested in Americans and so it definitely wasn’t lonely! One coping mechanism that I’m still thankful for was throwing myself head first into plays and musicals. From a really young age I had been annoying my family and friends with my singing and dancing and when I finally found an outlet for it onstage, I think they were all a little relieved. When I got to Ireland I got involved with musical societies straight away – and that’s how I’ve made some of my best friends here.
In college I lived for the Drama Soc – if I wasn’t onstage I was selling tickets in the rain, moving a set at 3am or dressing up for Rocky Horror Night. I did everything from ABBA in Stars in Their Eyes, to producing “The Full Monty” in the Helix, and I very proudly raised money for charity with “The Vagina Monologues” – dont worry, I’ll spare you the details! The last production I did was around two years ago when I was fortunate enough to be part of the cast of “RENT” in the Olympia. I haven’t done a musical since because I’m not sure anything could top the experience!
Me and Alan aka "Mark...Mark...I'M MARK!"
Another experience I had to get used to was WORK EXPERIENCE because I decided to go for a career in media. I first became “Radio Gaga” when my Dad told me all about the days of pirate radio in Ireland. He had run a local station in Wicklow in the 80’s and still had some of the equipment, which I quickly learned how to use. From then on, I was making my own shows on cassette – there was weather, competitions and requests followed by hours upon hours of Backstreet Boys songs. I also “borrowed” my parents video camera, which went everywhere with me in a backpack.
After studying Communications in DCU I got my first taste of the industry with an internship at WPLJ Radio in New York. I worked from 3:30am for free and absolutely loved it! Following a Masters in Broadcasting I became a radio researcher with 4fm and now freelance with Newstalk. Which means I get to ring politicians and personalities at practically any hour of the day to annoy them for an interview! And trust me, I have been hung up on, yelled at and have gotten my fair share of bitchy texts from Louis Walsh. I used to do the traffic reports on 4fm every evening, which was nerve wracking to say the least. My favourite bulletins involved oil spills, broken traffic lights and a traffic reporters’ dream – llamas on the M50. Working in news radio can be tough, particularly when times are so gloomy – but its really rewarding, especially in Ireland where people really value radio.
...I realise how much is wrong with this photo - but lets just go with it!
I suppose here’s where I reach the finale of the performance. Although I don’t live in New York anymore, it’s still a major part of my life and my sister still lives there. When I’m having a really terrible day, I find my happy place among the bustling city streets or at a humid summer BBQ. It helps to remember that if I hadn’t moved back to Ireland, I wouldn’t have had so many amazing theatre related experiences, wouldn’t have met some of my best friends, wouldn’t have met my boyfriend and wouldn’t have gotten to experience Irish radio. Come to think of it, I probably wouldn’t be standing here, completing my first Toastmasters speech.
Thank you very much for coming to see “The Susan Doyle Show”, I hope you have enjoyed the performance. Please use the exit on the right hand side and souvenirs will be available for purchase in the lobby! Goodnight!
And on a completely different note….I was going to post the video for Britney Spears’ “Break the Ice”…but the video is so awful I’ve decided against it. Good song though.