Finding joy on acorn tv rsz 1

'Finding Joy' mixes Irish humor, universal themes

Amy Huberman said she’s more of a people pleaser than her character in the show “Finding Joy.” COURTESY OF ACORN TV

By Karen Butler

"Finding Joy" may take place in Ireland, but the comedy's creator and star Amy Huberman says she hopes people around the world will be able to relate to -- and laugh at -- the titular heroine's adventures.

"I wanted to write it with these universal themes and I hope that certain Irishisms translate, as well," Huberman told the Irish Echo in a recent phone interview. "The world is so small in ways, now that we are so used to seeing each other's telly shows."

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Set in Dublin, the series debuted this fall on RTE and can now be watched outside of Ireland via the streaming service, Acorn TV. "Striking Out" and "The Clinic" actress Huberman wrote and starred in all six episodes, which follow the quiet and cautious Joy as she is catapulted out of her comfort zone, thanks to the twin challenges of a messy breakup and a high-profile job change.

Huberman said she frequently gets asked if she and Joy are similar.

"We're really not," she emphasized. "I love Joy and I am so protective of her and I wanted to write a character that I hadn't seen. Somebody we could all relate to and feel like the everyday kind of person who is winging it, looking for happiness, trying to figure it out."

The 39-year-old writer-actress said she did not want Joy to have an "aspirational lifestyle" validated by social media, but rather an ordinary life where she can grow believably while still being true to herself.

"What I always loved about Joy and what I wanted to hold to is that she was kind of okay with it. Like going: 'Okay, I'm not climbing to the top of Everest, but is that okay? Do we all have to be #goals all day every day? Is it okay to be doing okay and what does that mean?'" she said.

"Not to say that we don't have ambition, but that changes and that evolves and Joy is very like, 'I've got one mate, that's okay with me.' She's not incredibly sociable," Huberman noted. "I would probably be the opposite to that. But there's a part of her ability to be okay with that that I wish I had more of. I would be quite a people pleaser whereas Joy is like, 'This is my way.' She can be quite standoffish. She is not tactile. She doesn't have to be the entertainer in the room. She doesn't have to come cartwheeling into the room. She's happy to be in the background."

The show also features Aisling Bea as Joy's outrageous new roommate Amelia; Hannah James-Scott as her lifelong friend, the heavily pregnant Trish; and Lochlann O'Mearain as Joy's quick-to-move-on, ex-boyfriend Aidan.

Providing hilarious commentary for the audience is Joy's dog, Canine Aidan, who is voiced by Peter McDonald, Huberman's co-star from the film "The Stag" and the sketch comedy series "Your Bad Self."

"I've been such a fan of his work since 'I Went Down’ [1997]. He plays the comedy with such sincerity that it makes me laugh so much," she said. "He's a writer and he's just also such a really good guy and he is really supportive of other people's work and he's been a real cheerleader of this."

The real-life, married mother of two children (her husband is the retired rugby superstar Brian O’Driscoll) said she is now focusing on Christmas preparations while also pondering where a Season 2 of "Finding Joy" might lead should the show be renewed.

"We reapplied for the second series. We should know in the new year and I would love to do it again," Huberman said. "I'm going to take the rest of this year off to give my brain a little relaxation."

She added with a laugh: "I'm going to send my brain to the Happy Place, not think about it. The thing is when I say I'm not going think about it, she is on my mind because I think she's etched in my heart. It's such a passion project for me."