It’s been a whirlwind of a year for impersonator extraordinaire Conor Moore. The Mullingar man has been elevated to entertainment sainthood, both in Ireland and beyond.
Séamus Kiernan caught up with the funnyman in New York recently.
The dead heat of summer booms down as we walk towards Conor Moore’s new base in the heart of Midtown Manhattan.
We take the elevator to the roof of his building to look out in awe at the view around us.
Situated in the shadow of the iconic Empire State Building with the lights of Times Square flickering in the distance, it’s fair to say that the Mullingar man has made it.
From his abode, we walk the short distance to the legendary Long Hall on East 34th Street. As watering holes go in this town, The Long Hall shines above the rest. Great Guinness, great food and great characters.
It’s been a hectic few months for Conor. At the time of our sit-down he’s preparing to fly back to Ireland to cover The Open with The Golf Channel.
In the weeks following our meeting he would take to the stage in Clara to welcome Shane Lowry on stage following his stunning victory at Royal Portrush.
The Tudenham man has been smart. He’s embraced new technologies and he’s not afraid to take a risk, but at the heart of it all he’s simply a good salesman of himself, something which goes back almost three years ago when he began his career in entertainment.
“I started off working in finance in Dublin’s IFSC, and it just wasn’t for me. I thought ‘this isn’t what I signed up for.’ I just didn’t find it interesting at all.”
After his brief stint in finance, he would go on to test his mettle in the field of phone sales for Vodafone and Three. “I was literally knocking on doors, trying to sell phones. It went well. It was a tough gig, but I was good at it.”
It was while Conor was working in Sales that social media giant Snapchat would roll-out their face filter feature. Used innocently by its 150 million users, Moore would embrace the new feature in the form of videos to share among his peers.
“It started with a photo on the back of the Westmeath Topic. There was a high-profile scuffle at a local game and after reading the report I decided to give my take on it using the face filter feature on Snapchat. I started taking off Joe Brolly. I sent the video into our WhatApp group and everyone got a laugh out of it and started telling me to put it online. I thought it wouldn’t fly. It was only a match in Mullingar.”
After seeing the reaction from his friends, Moore kick-started his bank of impressions.
“It got me thinking that this was my opportunity, so I started doing a few other impressions. The first sketch was a preview of the Championship with Harry Redknapp, David Beckham, Eamonn Dunphy and Joe Brolly. Everyone loved it.”
After seeing the reaction to his video, Conor made the risky move of quitting his job in Sales.
“When I started doing it I never doubted that it wouldn’t work out. I spent six months without a job making these videos.”
It was at the end of this six months that Conor would get his next big break. In November 2016, former Liverpool ace Jamie Carragher tweeted one of his videos, which was closely followed with a job offer from mens-interest website, JOE.
After taking up employment with JOE as their in-house producer of sketches, Moore wasn’t long growing his following.
“The first couple of videos didn’t really hit. It took a while to find out what people really wanted, then I did a video of The Gooch Cooper, and that was the first one that made a bit of traction.
It got about eighty thousand hits. After that my job was to write and record two sketches every week and we continued with the GAA stuff and it really took off. Ger Loughnane became a cult hero. Without Ger, it would have been hard to come up with material!”
“Ger is just so old-school and tough, and such a hardy hurler. Those type of people are just their own breed. My Ger is the type of Ger that you hope Ger is when the camera goes off!”
Indeed, Ger has been central to Moore’s rapid rise in popularity, and the Clare man has enjoyed watching his doppelgänger take shape.
“Ger is just so old-school and tough, and such a hardy hurler. Those type of people are just their own breed. My Ger is the type of Ger that you hope Ger is when the camera goes off!
I met him about a year ago and he just looked at me and said ‘you’re making a right fool out of me!’ I asked him I hope you don’t mind and he said, ‘I hope you make millions!’.
With Loughnane representing hurling in Conor’s bag of vocal tricks, Sunday Game panellist Joe Brolly regularly falls victim when it comes to discussing the state of football in Ireland.
“I’ve met a lot of people since I started doing this but I still remember meeting Joe Brolly for the first time and what he told me. He said: ‘You know what you have to do if you want to be successful? Get yourself into trouble. That’s the best PR you can get!”
UNCLE SAM CALLING
With football, hurling and soccer conquered, Conor looked into what would become his trademark sketch material.
“I was working at JOE for about a year, and I started to get itchy feet. No one was doing golf comedy at all. Just from playing golf I realised golf people are actually serious craic. I saw this and thought if I could break into this, I’d be into something.
“I started doing Golf on my own channel and it went viral. The Masters was the first one. I was practising for weeks in advance, but I really needed to get Tiger Woods and it proved a tough one but I got there in the end.”
After posting his first golf video, Conor would get a call from broadcasting behemoth NBC in the United States which would change his life utterly.
“I was at home in Mullingar and NBC got in touch to see if I would be interested in doing some work for The Golf Channel.”
With little time to prepare, Conor was flown to Orlando, Florida to sort out all contract work and then flown back to Ireland to prepare for his first international showcase on The 2018 Open in Angus, Scotland.
In September of that same year, Conor flew to Paris to present his work to the European team of the Ryder Cup, which proved to be a major talking point.
“The European Tour got in touch to say they wanted a video of all twelve players. It was all players or nothing. I got up every morning at 6am and started working on all the players.
“I arrived in Paris for the Ryder Cup and during the press conference, all of the players were talking about the video. It dominated the press conference!”
With his new found international fame, the former man Coláiste Mhuire couldn’t believe his luck.
“I remember just going home and thinking ‘what a year’. Things couldn’t get better.”
But better things did get.
“I got an email from Bridgestone Golf to talk about potential opportunities. I thought it might just be about sending me a few golf balls when it was actually about doing a collaboration with them for an advert with Tiger Woods on The Golf Channel! I was so excited about the whole thing I thought there’s no way this can happen.”
Coming across many high-profile personalities in his line of work, Conor took it in his stride when he met Tiger.
“I don’t really get starstruck. You just realise that he’s a normal bloke at the end of the day with extraordinary golfing abilities. He was so cool. He just started laughing when he was looking at me. You’re with one of the greatest athletes of all time, and he’s looking at me like he’s a big fan! I’ve met a lot of people doing this but he’s one of the nicest guys I’ve met.”
Also accompanying Conor at the advert shoot were his brother Darren and cousin Gary, whom he says are forever in debt for meeting Woods.
“Tiger was so cool with them as well. We were there for eight hours shooting three videos and we would take breaks every so often and he’d go over and sit down with Darren and Gary. It was a surreal experience for them too.”
Still contracted with The Gold Channel, Moore spends much of his time jetting around the U.S. doing corporate events. His most recent was for veteran businessman Michael Dell of Dell Technologies.
Closer to home, he has managed to retain and even grow his audience, chiefly his appearance on The Late Late Show earlier this year. I was nervous to be on it because half the country watches it, in particular those who aren’t on social media. All of a sudden I was being stopped by people in Mullingar. It was a real game-changer.”
FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES
With his new found fame, Conor has built up a good rapport with personalities from various walks of life. In recent weeks, he was socialising with retired England mid-fielder Jamie Redknapp. “I don’t like going out with Jamie,” he joked. “He’s too good-looking and you feel very ugly standing beside him!”
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Gaining a new global audience has brought with it its perks, not least taking up residence in the heart New York.
“I can do impersonations anywhere but there’s a certain attraction to New York. I absolutely just love this city. I don’t have any Mondays in the sense that every day just feels the same. That’s just New York.”
Asked if New York was his new home, he was quick to answer.
“I love going home. New York is my second home. My home is Mullingar and Tudenham.”