Comedian - Actor - Podcaster

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Vodafone Comedy Carnival: The Best Of Irish

Vodafone Comedy Carnival: The Best Of Irish
Gig review by Steve Bennett in Galway

Twelve of the funniest feckers currently working in the Irish comedy circuit, that’s the simple sell of The Best Of Irish showcase at Galway’s Vodafone Comedy Carnival. Or at least the funniest comics prepared to share a Sunday-afternoon bill with 11 other names in a fast-moving conveyor belt that inevitably mixes the rough with the smooth.

And there’s a 13th act, compere Steve Cummins: pretty perfunctory in his banter, reeling off all the MCing clichés and hitting a few dead ends in his interactions until finally finding a thread worth pursuing with Joe the farmer. The bits of his own material we glimpsed didn’t show much inspiration, plenty on porn and wanking but with no fresh take. You know the sort of thing… how back in the day dirty pictures were found abandoned in hedges rather than online.

Many of the acts were a little discombobulated by the Spiegeltent set-up, its central stage forcing them to pace in circles as they performed in the round. Opening act Colum McDonnell had a good gag likening it to a cattle market, with him the prize heifer. His set proper was a delightfully observed slice of domestic minutiae, revolving entirely around biscuits and Weetabix: thoroughly engaging if oh-so short.

Andrew Ryan’s been around for a while on both sides of the Irish Sea, and has a relatable everyman charm… though some of the scenarios he portrays such as the young generation with the Instagrammable smashed-avocado-on-sourdough breakfasts is a little too generic to stick in the brain. Beneath the bonhomie, there’s a more intriguing undercurrent about whether any of us deserve to be happy, touching on issues of depression, but there was not enough time to draw that out.

Keith Fox took a typical stance, both in mixing all-too-familiar observations (trendy establishments serving drinks in jam-jars anyone?) with a more acerbic, downbeat attitude. His sarcastic dismissal of the concepts of ‘beach bodies’ in Ireland and smug marathon runners clearly come from a genuine desire to cut through the bullshit, and though parts of even a short set could be more focussed, his negativity is appealing.

Anna Clifford would benefit from more clarity in her set, too. Her approach to the morning-after ‘walk of shame’, defiantly refusing to believe there should be any shame involved shows a healthy self-assurance, and material about Irish repression made explicit in traditional dancing is well acted-out. But there are a couple of formulaic jokes, and sometimes her chatter around the subjects is jumbled, muddying the waters.

Tom O’Mahony has a strong persona, of the dyed-in-the-wool Tipperary county fella, slightly impressed by some of the cosmopolitan ways of modern Ireland, but keen to make jokes when he thinks anything’s getting too full of itself. Combining that no-nonsense frame of mind with some engaging storytelling chops makes him a comic who can easily hold, and entertain, a room (or even Spiegeltent).

Totally Wired are an old-fashioned, rather cheesy, duo… although there’s fun in the way they wholeheartedly embrace the corniness of their act, billing themselves as ‘Ireland’s oldest and least successful boy band’. Quick with the backchat, they impersonate Donald Trump with no real bite, and tease a satirical song about Muslims that turns out to be singing Koran-ran-ran to Da-Do-Ron-Ron. There’s no edge here. Their party piece is ‘bwark’ing along to an Ed Sheehan number, an idea they’ve lifted from Camila the Chicken from The Muppet Show. Yet their sense of fun is infectious, and there a couple of good lines that come as a surprise amid the naffness.

Jim Elliott’s lived in Ireland for 12 years but is originally from Washington, DC – and his patter is so fast-paced and slick it almost feels like a parody of the old-school, guy-in-front-of-a-brick-wall style of US stand-up. But his affectionate mockery on the peculiar way the Irish used the English language is funny, and endears him to a crowd. He’s very punchy and is hosting a roast battle elsewhere this festival. That makes perfect sense.

Breda Larkin is an over-packed bundle of all sorts of ideas and styles, rather too busy in the way she leaps about without really settling, starting from the moment she walks on stage with a crude face mask on. It feels like a lack of confidence that this fast-talking comic is trying too hard – but she needn’t be so nervy. For in the moments when she calms down into painting a picture of life in her backwater hometown, she displays some delightful turns of phrase, witty imagery and astute observations from living in a bungalow to the way her parents named her twin sister. It’s good stuff, she should have more faith in it

As anyone who watched Ireland’s Got Talent earlier this year will know, Sean Hegarty’s a one-line merchant, some of which are very good indeed (in fact, one is the best in Ireland, according to a competition). And even those that aren’t are so brief as to not be a worry. With a few singalongs and song snippets played from his phone, he’s very much in the Tim Vine school of selling the silliness hard and cheesy. Sometimes the comparison’s a bit too close, but you can’t deny the craft in his writing.

Enya Martin, already something of a success online, never really seemed to gel. Cheap jokes about coming from a council estate where people get pregnant for benefits seemed to fit a rather generic of what should be funny, rather than coming from an authentic place. As she doesn’t seem to be reflecting the genuine humour in her background, it’s hard to buy into her comedy.

Edwin Sammon showed host Cummings how to tell sex stories, with great act-outs and a flair for showmanship. He unwittingly repeated the cattle auction gag we heard in the first half, but otherwise delivered a strong, tight and playful set, full of tongue-in-cheek mockery that hit the mark.

Before he took to the stage, Kevin McGahern, pictured, was hyped up with plenty of references to his telly credentials. Although when he took to the stage he seemed distracted and underprepared. That’s part of his shtick, though, and once he settled in, he displayed some sharp political wit about the just-done presidential election – super-topical as well as funny. And his analogy for Britain’s self-inflicted Brexit wounds was on the nose, bringing a sort of gallows humour – and more than a touch of schadenfreude – to the upheaval that will have a knock-on effect on Ireland, too.

Review date: 29 Oct 2018
Reviewed by:

Tom O'Mahony

No Windows In The Tractor

I suppose if yer readin this you’ll most likely know that I’m a stand-up comedian. The ability to roar at strangers comes fairly naturally (it’s why journeys through cities take me forever. No not because I’m bogged with fans, because I’ve a caveman urge to shout at stupid fuckers out the car window).
It’s a class job in a lotta ways but like every job there’s a good percentage of it pure fuckin hardship (even Justin Bieber has a few ‘gway and fuck yerself’ days). It’s not the drivin or flyin or bussin or…ah fuckit travel in general. It’s not the mad bastards you sometimes have to work with who’d give a dose of ire to a jar of vaseline. It’s not even hecklers (I don’t get many oddly enough), I enjoy em. It’s the flat-out disastrous, hiroshima mixed with ebola, “hey let’s stick comedy on in this place, despite us not having a fuckin notion what we’re at” gigs that’d break the spirit of pig ignorant hard bastard sociopath.
Now don’t get me wrong, I take pride in doing shite rooms sometimes. I once struggled on in an hour long show in Edinburgh where a drunk woman broke down crying 5mins in because she’d been boozin all day in remembrance of her “stabbed-to-death father’s” anniversary. Try keepin a lid on that shit for 55mins. But weirdly we got through it without a single (further) loss of life. No, it’s the “ah for fucks sake, whatsgoinonlads gigs”.
So to get quickly to the point and stop flutin around. I got booked to this gig a while back somewhere in East Cork, I think. Not much was explained to me only apparently I was the man for the job (always a shady sign that some smart bollix has dumped this on ya) and a rough location (sometimes this shit is at a paramilitary level).
So off I trek deep into the guts of the wilderness that is East Cork. Passin through one one-horse town after another. I don’t mind the back roads normally, it’s like findin your roots (Christ I’m some bollix for even writing that). But this fuckin drive seemed to go on for ever. It was the kinda drive that’d have a man lookin nervous at the diesel needle. There was no point checkin the phone to make a call, there hadn’t been a signal for a least 20 parishes. But low and behold, out of the darkness as I rounded a corner, up ahead was…. a little less darkness! Like I said, there was a lot of one Horse towns on the journey but this place looked like it had shot the horse, eaten it and hadn’t even seen a horse since Ireland was ruled by the other shower of bollixes. Signs were not good lads. They were down to just one street light, or maybe they were actually just UP to one street light, I couldn’t tell. But at a glance, if I’d spotted Clint Eastwood standin at the other end of the street, wearin a poncho and hat while pointin a 6 shooter at me, he wouldn’t have looked outta place.
The ‘venue’ popped up on my right, a bleak lookin place that unlike most Irish pub exteriors that go for the ‘thousand welcomes’ look, this place goin for gway and fuck off look (they nailed it).
Parked up, I tip on in to place and there isn’t a fuckin sinner in the joint, except this chubby bloke behind the counter who looked he’d had an allergic reaction to a bee-sting or somethin. “Here to do d’comedaay are yuh” says he. “That’s me” says I. The fucker is sharp, this metropolis hadn’t seen a visitor since the vikings and even they didn’t fancy rapin anyone. They just ate their horse.
He doesn’t bother introducin himself or shakin my hand he just fucks off out the front for a smoke. So now I’m left here in this hay barn of a pub/venue in the eerie town (I’m still not sure of the name so let’s call it Silent Hill) wonderin what in the sweet n crispy Jesus is goin on. I shuffle myself to back area behind the stage to contemplate my choices in life (as ya do) when what sounds like a fuckin Deliverance convention burst through the door. There’s people, lots of em. Well the word ‘people’ would suggest that were all capable of upright walking but fuck me lads, one look at this lot and it’s clear that the phrase siter-brother relationship isn’t an uncommon one. I’d swear I can hear someone with 6 fingers playin a banjo.
Now this wouldn’t normally throw me, I’m not too far removed from the hillbilly set myself (Christ sure I’m only keepin the sleeves on my shirts since I moved up the country). But there’s somethin about the whole scenario that seems ‘left of centre’ if ya get me.
But fuckit we’re here now, as the fella says.
And out I go onto stage to lambast these hillbillies. Oddly enough my opening line didn’t go down too well, “how are ye East-Corkonians?” says I. “Ya bollix” says some fucker at the back. I ploughed on regardless but the tone was set. Now often you’ll hear a comedian give out or make excuses that the audience was a bit off, or they didn’t get me because they’re thick and the majority of time these are just that, excuses. But when I describe to you next what I witnessed in the front row, you’ll get a vibe that weirdness of the gig might not be entirely down to me. 250-300 wild lookin savages standin there (yup, they were made stand as the venue owner in his own words said “fuckem lad, I’m not gettin in extra chairs”) and my eye is immediately drawn to 2 blokes (we’ll call em, Ted and Tim), standin in the front row. Both the lads are sporting shotguns hangin over their arms (broken open because they’re gentlemen), wellies and a bag of what turns out to be a dozen dead rabbits bleeding all over the floor. Now far be it from me to take the moral high ground when it comes to huntin, I love me a bit of huntin but CHRIST ON A BIKE AND MARY ON THE HANDLEBARS lads, there’s a time and a place for this carry-on. I couldn’t have been more surprised if Denis Rodman had just been named our local parish Priest. What made the situation even weirder was that not one single fucker I’m the place saw this as bein out if the ordinary. So what do ya do? You fuckin well ask em whats the story, that’s whatcha do. “Story with the guns lads?” says I. “Out huntin t’seevenin” says Tim. “Couldn’t have left the aul guns out in the Jeep or car nah?!” says I. “Didn’t come in a jeep or car, came in a tractor” says Ted. (Fuckin hell lads this is intense). “Well could ye not have left em in the tractor?” says I. “No windaa’s in the tractor” says Ted. “They’d be robbed” says Tim. The 2 fuckers were talkin in tandem, givin me that Children of the Corn dead-eye look while the gang if urchins around looked on like the lads were responsible and thoughtful gun owners. “And the rabbits lads, did the rabbits have to come in too?” says I. And that was that with Tim and says l. They just dead-eyed me in silence, the same way a shark would look at a poor unfortunate seal that was trying to tell it jokes.
And that pretty much set the tone for the remaining 55mins. Well, 54mins actually because right as I was closing the show some bollix decided now would be a perfect time for a fight. 20 maybe 30 (some of these bastards could pass for 2 people (and that was just the women involved)) rough necks clatterin the heads off each other pretty much told me that that was how the show was endin. I ducked out the back because this had all the makins of somethin even Snake Pliskin wouldn’t hang around for. Turns out there WAS no back door, but I wasn’t lettin that stop me. Out the fuckin “windaa” I went. I didn’t give a shit about the pay, I was gettin out of this place. Leggin it to the car I spot the boys tractor, they weren’t lyin, there wasn’t any “windaa’s” there wasn’t even a fuckin cab on the thing.

Into the car, first gear and I’m off. Fuck that place I was thinkin. Why the hell was I stone-walled from beginnin to end? Was it my material? Were they just a bunch of savages who don’t get out much? Christ I’m not that ‘cultural’. Maybe it was the…….. Oh…. for… fucks sake! I know! My openin line, ‘East-Corkonians’!!!!!
See it was right at that point, about a mile outside the town I slowly drive by a sign that reads,
“You Are Now Leaving Waterford. Welcome to Cork”.
Them poor fuckin rabbits must’ve been wanderin over the county line.

Episode 36 The Panto Cast

Tom plays Dandini in the UCH Panto

Samantha Mumba, who shot to fame in 2000 with the release of her debut single and most recently seen on Celebrity Masterchef, joins the UCH Panto cast for the first time this year.

Samantha Mumba’s debut single Gotta Tell You went straight to the top of the Irish, UK and US charts in 2000. An international star, she went on to sell almost 5 million copies of hits during her successful singing career. Samantha also worked with Steven Spielberg, Vinnie Jones, Roger Daltrey and Patrick Bergin during her time as an actress.

A recent viewer-favourite on Celebrity Masterchef, Samantha is now preparing to be “booed” off the stage as she takes on the role of Cinderella’s evil Stepmother

Joining Samantha for his SPAR Panto debut at University Concert Hall will be Dayl Cronin, Dancing With The Stars semi-finalist and former member of Irish boyband Hometown, who will star as Cinderella’s love interest, Prince Charming.

The Robert C Kelly and University Concert Hall Panto is now in its sixth year and has grown to become one of the most eagerly anticipated in the country, with a host of Irish showbiz names starring since 2012.

Magic, romance, a feisty heroine, a handsome prince, dubious sisters that could do with a beauty blogger boot camp, chart hits and hilarity will all combine in Cinderella to produce the most wondrous panto ever seen!

Also starring Richie Hayes as Cinderella’s BFF Buttons, Leanne Moore as the Fairy Godmother, comedian Tom O’Mahony as Dandini and Myles Breen and Richard Lynch as the hilarious (and hideous!) Ugly Sisters. Making her UCH Panto debut in a starring role will be Hayley-Jo Murphy as Cinderella!

Interview with Civic Theatre

After a successful Edinburgh Fringe festival Tom O’Mahony is one of the busiest comedians on the Irish circuit. A regular star as the character “Tarquin” on RTE’s Republic of Telly in the Damo & Ivor series. Tom takes the audience on a unique comedic journey that truly brings the house down every time he performs.

We grilled Tom in advance of his gig at the Civic Theatre on Sunday, 12th April.

Where did you grow up?
I could say, West Philadelphia, born and raised…. But in actual fact it was the agricultural surroundings of South Tipperary.

Tell me how comedy started for you?
I was tricked! I told a woman I worked with a funny story (it was an insane rant), she laughed so hard she burst a vessel in her nose. Oddly she took this as a talent and secretly signed me up to an open mic in Cork.

When did you know it was what you wanted to do?
From the very first gig! Nothing can compare you for the adrenaline rush you get when you stand on a stage in a crowded room with a mic in your hand. I’ve shot guns, been punched in the face, driven fast cars and even milked an emu but I’m at my happiest on stage.

Were you always funny?
My Mum thinks so! Seriously though, being brought up in a house where everyone thinks they’re a comedian, you better think fast if you want to survive a Sunday dinner at mine! (kind of like the Tackleberry family in Police Academy).

What would you be doing if you weren’t a comedian?
I’ve done a variance of weird jobs, from artificial insemination for pigs to super car instructor. Most likely I’d still be in construction covered in dirt and shouting at people like a lunatic (so yeah, not too dissimilar to comedy).

Have you ever had an embarrassing moment on stage?
If nothing else, stand up comedy teaches you to hang up any normal levels of shame. Rather than most embarrassing probably my most weird was at a gig in Co. Cork where two guys in the front row had decided to bring their shot guns and freshly hunted dead rabbits into the gig with them. I was left with no choice but to embrace the weirdness, take one of the unloaded guns and point it at the audience every so often. It turned out to be a great night!

Who is your biggest inspiration?
Not to sound like too much of a suck (because I worked with him in Damo & Ivor) but Rik Mayall is probably my earliest and biggest influence. The guy was hilarious and professional from beginning to end. They say never meet your heroes, but meeting Captain Flashheart totally contradicted that.

Do you have a favourite one liner joke?
Stewart Frances: “This one goes out to my father, who was a roofer. So dad, if your up there.”

What can audiences expect from your gig at the Civic Theatre?
This ones a gloves off, gum shield in, punch in the head with absolutely zero correctness. People can vicariously live their inner psycho through me for an entire hour.