Get your laugh on
Sparkling, bubbly and very refreshing – we’re referring to the intoxicating, star- studded line-up for the Bulmers Pear Comedy Festival 2012. TONY CLAYTON-LEA takes you through, sip by sip
WHAT BEGAN as a teensy-weensy, intimate (well, not too intimate) comedy event six years ago (then titled the Galway Comedy Festival) has now blossomed into an event that attracts respected international headliners, Irish comedy heroes and heroines, and a plethora of some of the best new comedians trying to crack a joke no one has heard before.
More than 50 shows are scheduled for the six-day event. There are well-known acts, including Tommy Tiernan, Reginald D Hunter, Des Bishop, Ardal O’Hanlon, Rich Hall, Barry Murphy, Kevin Gildea, Sean Hughes, Andrew Maxwell, Jason Byrne and Pat Shortt; comedy sketch groups/troupes (Rubberbandits, Whose Line Is It Anyway? Faulty Towers Dining Experience, Foil, Arms Hog, Stand Up Showdown); and lesser-known-but-not-for-long names such as John Colleary, Eleanor Tiernan, Tony Law, The Boy with Tape on his Face, Carol Tobin and Terry Alderton. Something very amusing for everyone who turns up? Oh, yes.
One of the country’s most successful and controversial comedians, Tiernan continues to riff on what he once described as “whatever lunacy is within you to come out”. Never short of an opinionated remark? You could say that, alright.
Between his praised performances on Après Match and his own stand-up gigs (which pivot on original characters/alter egos and a rapid-fire wit – his German “friend”, Gunther, is a major laugh) and Murphy is rightly regarded as one of the best we have.
With a hefty television profile (he has hosted, among other shows, The Blizzard of Odd and The Unbelievable Truth, and he’s a resident on The Panel), Murphy regularly undermines his family- friendly TV style with content that is both refreshingly honest and R-rated.
He was here (he won the prestigious Perrier Comedy Award in 1987), he was there (team captain on Never Mind the Buzzcocks; he joined the cast of Coronation Street in 2007) and then he kinda disappeared (writing novels has that effect). Now Hughes is back in the swing of things, with the thing he loves above all else: comedy. The mustest-see on the Must-See list?
Interesting guy, very good comic; Bishop has graduated from basing his comedy largely on his observations of the Irish and their wily ways to turning grave topics (his diagnosis of testicular cancer, the socially disadvantaged, the death of his father) into seriously intelligent humour.
FAULTY TOWERS DINING EXPERIENCE
And you thought you were out for a highly enjoyable dinner in the company of your loved ones? But what’s this? A delusional hotelier by the name of Basil? Stalked by his snooty, constantly undermining wife, Sybil? Harassed by a sincere but moronic waiter called Manuel? It can mean only one thing: bread knives at dawn . . .
The man born as Philip Swan (he took his grandfather’s surname at 16) started his comedy life as a performance poet in the mid-1980s, and has since ricocheted from radio to television to stage, all the while honing his craft as a decent stand-up/one-liner merchant.