Life is Shortt
Pat Shortt discusses his new role in a recession comedy and life as a national treasure
Pat Shortt can be seen in the comedy 'Life’s a Breeze'.
Blast Private Eye magazine! The satirical publication recently introduced a column entitled National Treasures dedicated to the promiscuous overuse of that handy construction. But how else can we describe Pat Shortt? Over the past 20 years, since his emergence as one half of comedy anarchists D’Unbelievables, the Tipperary man has become one of those personalities it’s impossible to hate. You may as well hate kittens, ponies or ice cream. More than a few scriptwriters have told me that the phrase “Is there something for Pat Shortt in it?” is never far from any potential funder’s lips.
“Yes. I’ve been approached by a few writers to ask if they can put my name on a script,” he laughs.
So, what has he got that people crave?
Watch the trailer - Life's A Breeze
Shortt is a versatile performer, but he has a particular gift for inhabiting lovable idiots and incorrigible rogues. Working alongside Jon Kenny, he invented a score of such characters for D’Unbelievables. A few more appeared in his TV series, Killinaskully. From today, he can be seen as another amiable fool in Lance Daly’s agreeable comedy Life’s a Breeze. Pat must have pondered his rampaging popularity with Irish audiences.
“Ah, I hate trying to analyse things too much,” he says. “I worked primarily on pre-watershed TV and that is not always acknowledged by the media. It’s more family-oriented. I know from my own perspective – watching TV with my kids – that that’s an important thing. You connect with families. And that’s vital.”
The downside to that level of exposure, of course, is that a misleading version of “Pat Shortt” has now been disseminated throughout the nation. It hardly needs to be said that Shortt is not any sort of gap-toothed village idiot. In fact, he speaks in a round-vowelled voice that – particularly in mid-anecdote – tends towards the actorly. Like the late Barry Fitzgerald, he’s a clever, erudite man who enjoys pulling on the sly beggar’s tweed cap.
“You do become an extension of the character,” he says. “I am supposed to be some sort of mucker from down the country. What I have done with my comedy is to echo certain rural characters – the daft ones. And sometimes people do expect you to be like that. They’ll shout out: ‘Ah, ya boy, ya!’ And they’ll be surprised when you don’t engage with that.”
Shortt has shown them. In 2007, he delivered a superb performance as a sensitive man with learning difficulties in Lenny Abrahamson’s poetic rural drama, Garage. He has appeared at the Druid in Martin McDonagh’s The Lonesome West. As we speak, he is acting opposite Daniel Radcliffe in a production of McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan in London’s West End. He does seem to be on the point of brushing aside those occasionally unhelpful stereotypes.
“I know I’m a good actor,” he says with a slight ironic twinkle. “I am a decent actor and the prospect of getting to prove that on the London stage was fierce exciting to me.”