Comedian Al Porter has broken his silence for the first time in five years, revealing how he would like to “make people laugh again” and revitalize his career.
He quit his high-profile radio station on Today FM in November 2017 amid a furore over unsubstantiated allegations on social media, and has since declined to speak publicly.
Speaking today about this difficult time in his life, the stand-up comedian said he has been “long-term sober” and living a quiet existence at his parents’ home in Tallaght.
He said that he “kind of disappeared” about five years ago and his life had changed beyond recognition.
Porter said that when he made a series of tweets alleging allegations against him in 2017, he took the issues in his personal life very seriously and decided to step away from all his work commitments.
“Since I was 19, my life has been a runaway train, I had the candle lit at both ends, which left me overwhelmed and unable to cope,” he said.
“At the time, all I wanted to do was go home to my family, but I couldn’t even do that because the media was outside my mum and dad’s house. Within 48 hours it felt like I had lost everything.
“I found out through a newspaper article that a report of sexual assault had been filed against me at the Gardaí. I immediately and repeatedly approached the Gardaí but it took a year before I was told what the allegation actually was, to which I denied. It took another year for the head of the prosecutor’s office to drop the charges against me. I wouldn’t wish these two years on anyone.”
He said during that time he received death threats and mocked headlines saying he had committed suicide.
Porter said the controversy started with people tweeting about him and some of them were from the comedy scene and he considered them “good friends”.
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“These were guys I looked up to. I was only 19 when we all met and they were the older, more experienced comics. They said publicly that I was inappropriate to them at the time, some said that they laughed at the time but felt uncomfortable,” he said.
“I remember events differently and we stayed in touch for years, messaging online and collaborating and connecting in person. Although I started getting bigger bills and some bigger gigs, I’ve never been in a position of power over anyone, despite what some people may have written.
Reflecting on his age of 19 to 23, he said it was clear he was “very immature” and that he was letting down members of the LGBT community, among others.
“In terms of my career, I was prepared. But in my private life I could be a mess and forget the times I was obnoxious. I wasn’t considerate of others because I was too busy thinking the world revolved around me,” he said.
“To put it bluntly, I was an idiot. I let my family and friends down. I let down my partner who was with me before and through it all. I failed my community, Tallaght, the comedy scene and the LGBTQ community. I disappointed the people I worked with. And I let down the people who came to my shows and always supported me.”
He said he got a “huge wake-up call” from what happened and paid a heavy price.
“I learned my lessons the hard way and in the most public way imaginable. When you last heard from me, I’ve been in the comedy scene for about four and a half years, since I was 19. Based on that, now that I’m 29, I’ve spent the entire second half of my adult life growing, learning, and making amends where I could,” he said.
He also referenced an incident at St. Patrick’s Hospital where he posed for a photograph with a service user and kissed his cheek as he exited and placed his hand on his chest.
“It was uninvited and made him uncomfortable. I accept this and for that I’m still sincerely sorry,” he said.
As for his future plans, he said on his website that he is now “fit and healthy and sober for a long time” and hinted that he would like to return to his comedy career.
“Now I want to make people laugh again. Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. Mine starts now,” he said.
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