Life is Shortt
Pat Shortt discusses his new role in a recession comedy and life as a national treasure
So are we now allowed to be nostalgic about earlier recessions?
“I have very fond memories of growing up in the 1980s,” he ponders. “It was a bleak time when we left school. But from a creative perspective that’s no bad thing. You may as well be creative because you’ll be making as much money doing that as you would doing anything else. Then the Celtic tiger came along. But now we see people doing creative things again. People are writing their own stuff, producing it themselves. That’s good.”
In 2000, Jon Kenny was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. Obviously, Pat’s first concern was for the health of his friend (Kenny has since recovered). But he also had to face up to certain professional difficulties. To this point, he had done little without his comic partner. While Jon was receiving treatment, Pat was forced to think hard about the direction of his career. He knocked together some solo material and he began contemplating acting work.
Watch the trailer - Life's A Breeze
Throughout our conversation, he frequently returns to his experiences making Garage. He feels this was where he proved something to the public about his abilities as a straight actor. Directors took note too. He is now in a very happy position: he is respected and he is also (in Ireland anyway) a box-office draw. A hit at the recent Galway Film Fleadh, Life’s a Breeze shows his talent to good advantage.
“It reminds me of the Roddy Doyle comedies that came out of another recession. Everybody is scraping around,” he says. “People are losing their jobs – that kind of vibe. We are looking for the lotto ticket that will solve everyone’s problem. But it’s also about the relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter.”
Shortt seems to have a busy emotional and professional hinterland. He has a pub in Co Cork which – shooting schedules permitting – he visits once a week. Solidly married, he now lives in the picturesque town of Castleconnell, not far from Limerick City. I imagine the family keep his feet on the ground.
“Oh they do of course,” he says with a mighty chortle. “I have very good friends there. I am not a celebrity when I walk into the pub. I am a local. Maybe if I was living in Dublin it would be different. I drop the kids into school and pick them up from GAA like any other parent. It just becomes the norm.”
I think we have to call him a National Treasure. Don’t you?