I'm fresh back from the Smithwicks Cat Laughs Comedy Festival in Kilkenny. I could only stay for Friday and Saturday night this year but it was as eventful as ever. This year I decided to steer clear of telling my crap jokes to comedians as it didn't seem to go down too well last time around. The peculiar thing about Kilkenny is that over the course of a couple of days you see so much comedy that you really start to think that you can do it yourself. This is of course delusional because i've found out that more than a few of the comedy pros find it hard to make people laugh. In fact some comedians, as I've found out, are not at all funny. here's a whirlwind review of my festival:
Friday night: Pre-comedy preparation involved drinking a fair whack of alcohol. This should have set me up for the Tommy Tiernan gig in the Kilkenny Ormonde Hotel or so you'd think. I wasn't sure what to expect from our friend from Navan and it appears that he wasn't sure what he was going to say for most of the gig. He started out all guns blazing and burnt out after twenty minutes. There were long drawn out gaps where he would just waffle on about all manner of shite and the only laughter to be heard was the nervous variety (that laughter where someone is laughing even though nothing funny is happening). After forty minutes I couldn't wait for the gig to end, it was becoming excrutiating. Tommy informed all and sundry that he has given up drink, smokes, sex and several other vices. It appears that he has given up comedy also.
Later Friday Night: Down to Langtons for a multiple billing of comedians. Langtons must be the worst comedy venue ever. It has a marble floor that echoes every chair moving, bottle-falling etc. It's as hot as fucking Hades also and there appears to be no air-conditioning in the venue. Dom Irrera is the MC for the other acts. He's a bad-a-bing New York comedian who I've seen a few times but he tends to use the same jokes year in year out. He's a regular at the festival and at this stage he's more Goodfellas pizza than Sopranos but I'm not sure that the venue, heat and drunk crowd suited his act. Ah well, he carried on regardless and introduced Joe Rooney.
Joe is an Irish comedian who has been around the block on a few occasions. He's starred as Fr. Damo in the Father Ted series and was also part of the original Ding Dong Denny O Reilly and The Hairy Bowsies. It appears that he's not been doing as much comedy in recent years (he's concentrating on doing jingles and voiceovers) but he's still a good laugh. He seemed to go down pretty well with the crowd. Next up was Des Bishop who in my view is more of a social commentator than comedian. However what the fuck do I know as he appears to be well loved by most of the festival goers. I must have seen him have his picture taken with a cameraphone wielding, cackling culchie cáilín about 200 times over the weekend. He seems to revel in the attention. Last on the bill was Australian comic Steve Hughes. This guy is great. Although I'd seen most of his show before it was still funny second time around. He was clever in his delivery and insightful in his comedy content. He was definitely the highlight of this particular show.
Later on Friday Night/Early on Saturday morning: I was up until about 4am, drinking and talking shite to anyone who'd listen. Thankfully Barry Murphy of Soupy Norman fame was willing to lend an ear as we were smoking outside. I complimented him on the Soupy Norman show on RTE and he seemed pleased with the plaudits. However in a very un-comedian like manner he was bigging up his co-writer Mark Doherty instead of accepting all the glory. I've always liked this guy but this single show of self-deprecation sees him shoot upwards in my estimation. Humility is something sorely lacking amongst most comedians but Mr Murphy is a gent.
Saturday morning: Up and out to Langtons for the OB Ray D'arcy show on Today FM. All the comedians are being interviewed and there's a lot of sore looking heads, my own included. Andrew Maxwell runs in panting and well shook, sits beside me and asks who's in charge of things. I tell him I haven't a clue so he goes off to find someone important. He doesn't get interviewed. He need not have bothered getting up so early.
Saturday evening: First up is a another revue gig with the following: The host is Dara O Briain and the others on show are Reginald D. Hunter, Shappi Khorsandi and John Bishop. John Bishop has featured on The Panel where his knowledge of the Irish political scene has been shown to be sorely lacking. However when he is doing his own thing he is very good. His Liverpudlian cheeky chappy delivery make for a good show and I've seen him three times now and he has rarely repeated the same joke. This is a highly uncommon attribute for a gigging comedian. Next up was a six-month pregnant Shappi who delighted the audience over the course of her 20/25 minute show. Female comedians are as rare as hen's teeth in Kilkenny but this lady put on a very good show and endeared herself to the audience almost immediately. Big up. Girl Power and all that. The final comic on the bill was Reginald D Hunter from the US. He was excellent. Funny, sharp, original and a bit of a buzzer. The whole thing was held together by the slick, professional and funny Dara O Briain. I'm becoming a big fan of Mr O Briain. As with Barry Murphy he doesn't seem to have the hang-ups and ill-temper that seems a prerequisite for a career in comedy.
Later on Saturday: There's a bit of a gap between the last gig and this but we still make our way up to The Village Inn to check out a one-man show by Andrew Maxwell. It's his first at this festival. We arrive early but The Village Inn would not be the nicest of pubs. We spot Delaneys Bar and Grocer across the street and head in there for a couple of scoops. It's an oldschool Irish pub and stocks pint-bottles of Smithwicks, Cidona, Guinness and Bulmers. Pint bottle heaven. We get chatting to Seamus, the landlord, and he tells us that he has a bit of room out the back that would be perfect for a comedy gig. He also tells us that the orgainsers have never even come looking to use it. It's a pity because its nicer and more welcoming than some of the kips that have shows on in them. Seamus and his wife are top people with a top boozer. Check it out next time you're in Kilkenny. We head across to Andrew Maxwell who does a brilliant gig. In essence the gig was really three long stories but it was still my favourite of the weekend. There was an enormous amount of goodwill from the crowd and Pauline McLynn and her 71 year old mother seemed to be really enjoying themselves. Apparently Paulines husband Richard has played a part in organising the festival since its inception. To my untrained eye he looks like a less muscly version of the singer in Right Said Fred. I'm not sure if that's a good thing though.
We race Pauline and her mother to see David O'Doherty in Cleeres. They immediately have the upper hand by having a taxi waiting outside the gig and make it there a long time before us. It's standing room only when we get there, mainly due to the fact that the place only holds about 50 people. O'Doherty is polished in his delivery and his songs are pretty good but I've now seen this same show three times in the last twelve months. This, coupled along with the fact that someone was dropping some of the smelliest farts ever meant that I didn't really enjoy the gig. My missus, whose shoes were killing her at this stage would not walk back to the hotel in the torrential rain. She was mean and single-minded and made sure that she got the taxi ahead of Pauline McLynns mother this time around. Sorry about that Mrs McLynn.
I had to come back on Sunday to get to the Dublin v Meath match in Croke Park. Driving home from Kilkenny in the rain was a nightmare but I got home in the end. Dublin v Meath was a draw. As with the Tommy Tiernan gig, the longer it went on the more excrutiating it became to watch. Meath brought on a chap who looked like he'd been surviving on a diet of Smithwicks and McDonalds Happy Meals for the last few months and he managed to rescue a draw for Meath. With such performance enhacing qualities Tommy Tiernan might want to start the same diet.