Festival Fit: The Good, the bad and the ugly – and a nice cowpat pie

Knockanstockan was rockin’, Vodafone Comedy Festival proved Irish comedians are world-class, while Ennio at Imma could take on Bruce in a battle of the bands

DO YOU have a favourite pair of jeans? Had you a shoe whose loss of sole was long lamented, or a T-shirt worn out from being worn out? Some things just fit right. It was about 7am on Monday, whilst bobbing in Blessington Lake in my underpants, that I realised Knockanstockan might just be the festival that fits me best.

About an hour later, when I witnessed someone eating a dried piece of cow-shite on a dare, there was no doubt about it. My judgment may have been skewed somewhat from sleep deprivation, but I can’t wait to test the theory and try the festival on again next year.

The early part of last weekend was spent lapping up the lolz at Vodafone Comedy Festival. The Iveagh Gardens were carnivalled up with twirlers, tumblers and roustabouts winding up the arrivals. The fastest gigs to sell out at this year's Cat Laughs in Kilkenny were big-hitting Irish acts, and that trend was repeated in Das Kapital. I'd initially thought that this was a reflection of us sticking with what we know and love, but having seen eight comedians in Kilkenny and nine comedians over the course of the gigs in the Gardens, the homegrown crew stand out as being world masters of mirth. If the Boys in Green were performing at the same level we'd be booking tickets to Brazil.

Dylan Moran dealt out the existentialism, with generous dashes of surreal, bumbling genius, while David O'Doherty encouraged the audience to gaze upon the world with the curiosity and wonder of a six-year-old (a particularly advanced and dirty-minded six-year-old, mind you). Forget about Daft Punk's Get Lucky – O'Doherty's I Know a Man Who Had a Wank on a Bike is the feel-good hit of the summer.


Tommy Tiernan was on fire, relentlessly lashing the crowd with twisted scenarios that tapped into the darkest recesses of our cultural and rural psyches. Tiernan is a dark prince of Irish comedy, and his fiendish glee in revealing deep truths hidden in Big Tom lyrics was surpassed only by the enthusiasm with which the crowd took up the Monaghan Cowboy's mantras. Tommy Tiernan is the anti-Gay Byrne. Hallelujah.

I have a small confession to make. I'm not really into Bruce Springsteen. I've seen him once and that was enough, really. Doing a three-hour-set is commendable, but it seems a bit on the long side to me. It's quite possible that I have the attention span of a flea, an accusation levelled at the crowd who attended Signore Morricone in Kilmainham on Saturday by a lady who would not have enjoyed Knockanstockan at all. Her beef was that some people were moving about while the orchestra was performing; you just don't get that kind of carry-on in the NCH. I thought the atmosphere and attentiveness of the crowd in Kilmainham was exemplary, the music sublime and the one-off experience worth the astronomic ticket price. They didn't play as long as Brucie, but I reckon Morricone's 200-strong crew would take the E Street Band in a rumble by virtue of sheer numbers. You have to keep an eye on those Italians, though – they're likely to bring an oboe to a knife fight.

If anything, the Kilmainham crowd were a little sedate, polite applause peppering the air between pieces, with only the intro to Gabriel's Oboe garnering a surreptitious whoop and whistle.

Knockanstockan was only down the road in Wicklow, but it was a world away. You could bring your own food and drink inside, have paint fights, enjoy wonderful music, meet the most marvellous freaks, bend circuits, expand your mind, bob in a hot tub and, if the mood took ya, bite shite. The bash in Blessington is unsurpassed in the field of feckless abandon. The good, the bad and the ugly mingle wonderfully here.

Safe travels, don’t die.