In honor of the Begorrathon, hosted by 746 Books, Raging Fluff and brought to my attention by the awesome V from the Verbal Spew Review, I decided to write about my favourite Irish Comedians. There isn’t much I can write about Ireland’s culture, other than geekdom and my love for everything TV, Film, Games and Books. I only came up with 2 articles: Comedy and gushing about Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
This one’s the first article and I’ll tell you about my two favourite Irish comedians and the ones I saw on Friday during a wonderful show at the Laughter Lounge in Dublin.
Ed Byrne: I first saw Ed in Mock the Week, where I’ve discovered most of my now favourite comedians, and from the first moment he opened his mouth to the end of the show I just kept laughing. Witty and extraordinarily nerdy, he was my comedian. His name is an anagram of “Be Nerdy,” something he figured out on his own.
Ed’s an observational comedian, his routines coming from his experiences, be they family life or hanging out with his friends or even his camping and hiking trips. Everything happening in his life just fuels the comedy acts which to this day I find hilarious, even after watching them a few hundred times. There’s a particular segment of his “Pedantic and Whimsical,” DVD where he slags off Alanis Morissette that I hold dear in my heart (as I can’t stand her either). Even if he does prepare the material, with him it sounds like a story a mate tells you at a pub over a nice drink.
One of the things I love the most about Ed’s shows is that even if I’m not sure of what he’s talking about, not being native to the UK or Ireland, the punchline is still funny as hell. He’s that sort of relatable comic, you can tell what the story is about, what the funny bit is even if you’re not completely sure about the context. As he admits, “I’m picky, that is my problem.” We can all relate to that, about finding something or someone annoying, of minor details that other people ignore causing us grief. At least I can and it’s part of the reason I enjoy his comedy so much.
And of course, the nerdy references are fantastic. In his last DVD, his story about meeting Paul Winfield, and the following rant is hilarious.
Dara Ó Briain: After I discovered what Mock the Week was (do remember I’m originally from South America, no BBC over there) I instantly became a fan of the big man (not just talking about his head here).
While he does draw from his life for the comedy, such as his appearances in shows and gigging experience, I’ve always seen Dara as more of a traditional comic, in the same line as the late George Carlin for example; the ones that prepare the material exhaustively, to the point where they can deliver it not only effectively but also naturally. With them it doesn’t seem planned, it doesn’t sound forced or rehearsed, but just something that came off the top of their heads.
Dara is also fantastic in how he draws his audience in. While other comics berate and destroy their audience, Dara turns them into Gods for the duration of the show. He doesn’t forget anything the audience says and he’ll go back to them at regularly, for their input on something or just for good craic (a beautiful Irish word that means FUN). His last DVD was in fact called Craic Dealer and the story surrounding that title and the chain of stores that refused to sell it as it “promoted drug use” is outstanding.
Much like Byrne (both good friends and best men at each other’s weddings), he’s a massive geek and quite the gamer, though I disagree with his views on Nintendo and the Wii. Beyond Mock the Week and the standup DVDs I always like to catch Dara at whatever other programmes he’s working on, because I know they’ll be fantastic! From Science Club to Three Men and Stargazing Live, they’re always informative and amazingly funny.
Dara’s a brilliant guy, extremely witty and just superbly funny.
As I mentioned before I attended the Showstoppers Show at the Laughter Lounge last Friday. In the show I had the pleasure of watching four fantastic Irish Comedians: Johnny Candon, Marcus O’Laoire, Chris Kent and Willie White.
Johnny acted as the night’s host, introducing the other performers and keeping the audience engaged. That night must’ve been wonderful for him, as he had both a Scottish Hen Night (dear lord they were annoying) and an English Stag Do. Can you give more ammo to a comedian? He mocked them all in turn as well as the poor kid in the front row who looked really young for his age.
But the best bit about him, the crowning moment of awesomeness for me was his comment on Fifty Shades of Grey, about how Christian Grey’s ‘Copper Hair’ is just another word for Ginger, and how his long slim fingers sound like he’s bloody E.T. “The next time, ladies, you’re in your tub and you’re rubbing one off to that book, just remember you’re wanking to E.T. with a ginger wig!” I’m paraphrasing a bit, but the audience roared and cheered and I almost choked.
Marcus O’Laoire came second and his was a living in Dublin as a posh guy routine and it was generally fun, even for the non-Dubliner in the room. Very smart, really funny and his stories about being drunk with his girlfriend were very cool. His last bit was on what makes Dubliners unique and it was a story on the Viking Splash–which I have seen going around but haven’t felt suicidal enough to try with winter weather–involving a crowd of Spanish students, the Viking Tour Guide and a junkie. I won’t ruin it for you if you get the chance to see him.
Chris Kent wasn’t my favourite of the night to be honest, I felt he wasn’t as natural telling his routine as the other comedians. Having said so, he was really funny too. His entire routine was on the subject of tipping and how it’s a crazy culture in the US. It’s true and the examples he gave were just outstanding, from the $400 tip total for a tour bus to paying out $60 for a photo signed by a Michael Jackson impersonator. The last bit with his wife retelling something offensive he said in private was just priceless.
The last one for the evening was Willie White, the headliner. I just loved him, though it did take me about two minutes to get used to the thick accent. From growing up in Ballymun and his friends thinking he was a tough guy, to a fantastic routine talking about how we tend to judge people on their looks, using the X-Factor and Susan Boyle as an example, he was hilarious from start to finish. Best of all, he ended his show singing Kiss from a Rose by Seal, his own X-Factor audition, because he knew we’d already judged him and thought “he’s not gonna sing right.” And he did, he was great!
So there you have my experience with Irish Comedy, from the favourites to the people I’m going to start following now after just one very good show at the Laughter Lounge! I’ll be in London this week so I won’t be able to go to the Lounge again for the “Best of Irish Comedy” show, but if you’re in the area you should definitely go!