Love Island narrator Iain Stirling on stand-up and the challenges of millennial life

Love Island narrator Iain Stirling talks to Hannah Stephenson about the show's impact, his passion for stand-up and the challenges of millennial life which he addresses in his new book

Iain Stirling, the voice of Love Island. Picture: PA Wire
Iain Stirling, the voice of Love Island. Picture: PA Wire

Back from his two-month foray in Majorca, comedian and Love Island narrator Iain Stirling has dived into publicising his first book, Not Ready To Adult Yet – a comical guide to millennial life, fitting in a quick holiday with his girlfriend, model and TV presenter Laura Whitmore.

So, after being involved in the biggest reality series of this year, is it an anti-climax to be back home?

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“No, I think it’s the opposite,” genial Edinburgh-born Stirling reflects. “I’ve just spent forever in a little booth in a German tourist resort in Majorca. It’s nice to have home comforts. I can go to a coffee shop, I can have a curry. I can have all the things I miss.”

The 30-year-old comedian and children’s TV presenter agrees Love Island has made a big difference to his life.

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“I wouldn’t have a book out if it wasn’t for Love Island,” he says. “I’ve got a wider audience, which hopefully I can cultivate and give them something that they want.”

Indeed, he acknowledges that his raised profile will help shift more tickets for his current U OK Hun? stand-up tour, in which he takes a comical look at subjects including millennials, politics and life lessons.

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“I know I’ll sell more tickets because of Love Island, which has been a platform for who I am. But the ideal is that I will be good enough that people will enjoy it and come again. That’s the challenge.

“When I started the tour, pre-Love Island going mad, it was in rooms above pubs, so it’s quite nice to take it into bigger theatres and see how it runs,” he says.

Being the voice of Love Island has taught him that there’s nothing more captivating than relationships, he reveals.

“There is something mesmerising about watching two people fall in love. Like a car crash, but with more French kissing.”

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And there’s nothing more comforting than watching a couple have a “total barney”, he adds, without you being involved in it whatsoever.

Yet, he’s remaining tight-lipped about his own relationship.

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“I don’t like talking about the stuff with Laura – that’s a part of my life I like to keep private,” says the comic, who’s been dating Whitmore for over a year.

They frequently post on social media, however. “I do post on social media because it’s my right to post whatever I want on social media,” he says, a touch frostily.

The only mention of Whitmore in his book is a heartfelt acknowledgement at the end, thanking her for all her support while he was writing it. “I hope I make you as happy as you make me. I love you,” he writes.

While talk of his current relationship is off-limits, there are comical passages in his book on him dabbling with the dating site Tinder following a previous break-up.

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“The experience was pointless and unfulfilling. You just had conversations with people that went nowhere, because you were constantly talking to people who were constantly talking to other people. I don’t think I went on any dates through Tinder. It never got to that stage.”

And he admits he has trouble opening up to people emotionally.

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“As a human being, it’s quite scary to open up to somebody, whether it’s a friend or family member or partner. It looks silly and you’re worried you’re going to embarrass yourself.

“But the more you do open up, the more you think, ‘Actually, everyone’s going through the same nonsense’. It’s better in the long run.”

His book explores why millennials are the way they are, and whether they really are self-obsessed, work-shy, mollycoddled egomaniacs as is often implied, or just a misunderstood generation that can’t grow up.

“We are a crossover generation. When we were young, mobile phones were in their infancy and now they’re everywhere. When we were young, there were jobs and money and then the credit crunch took all that away. We were the gap between the old school and the new school,” he explains.

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Stirling, who gained a law degree at Edinburgh University before pursuing his comedy career, writes about his generation’s fear of failure – something he has experienced.

“I fear failure hugely, all the time. When I was in my early 20s and in children’s television (he was a CBBC presenter), which was going quite well, and had a reasonable income and a nice life in London, I would still look at other friends who were comedians and think, ‘Why am I not doing a comedy panel show?’, or, ‘Why am I not doing that tour?’, or, ‘ Why can’t I get people to come and see me live?’

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“There was definitely that idea of comparison. Your life has this weird external factor to it, where you are feeling constantly judged. We’ve put this on ourselves.”

Being in showbiz heightens that fear, he agrees. He ditched law for a full-time job in kids’ television but still views his inability to enjoy the moment as his biggest failure.

“When I was in kids’ TV, I should have realised how well it was going and basked in it. Instead, I was just constantly trying to trade up and do something more and something better. My whole aim was to do kids’ TV, so I could move to London and be a stand-up comedian. My biggest failure is wasting a lot of time thinking I was failing.”

He’s had his fair share of poorly-attended stand-up gigs, where he earned next to no money to perform the craft he loves.

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“I’ve done gigs to three people, but I never considered throwing in the towel. I needed to do this. It was never an option to not do stand-up. I did it because I love it.

“I had a want to make people laugh and be funny. Comedy is really lonely, hard work and doesn’t pay well in the beginning. You do it because you need it.”

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Unsurprisingly, he was inspired by Billy Connolly. “I remember my mum had one of his cassette tapes on in the car, and she had to pull over on the motorway because she was laughing so hard and didn’t want to crash.”

Other more recent inspirations include Tommy Tiernan and The Mighty Boosh.

“There are loads of cool people coming through – it’s really exciting at the minute for comedy. But I still wouldn’t say I’m in that madly established area. I still feel like I’m up-and-coming. I’m still trying to get better.”

And if all else fails, he’ll surely have his passport to Love Island next year.

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Not Ready To Adult Yet: A Totally Ill-informed Guide to Life by Iain Stirling is published by HarperCollins, priced £16.99. Available now.