Oliver Callan gets new drivetime slot for RTÉ sketch show with a harder edge

The gay comedian says he was surprised by the positive reaction to his ’coming out’


After a year's hiatus from the airwaves, impressionist Oliver Callan brings his new show to RTÉ Radio One tomorrow evening.

Callan's Kicks has landed quite a prime slot between 6.30pm and 7pm. Previously his Green Tea weekly satire programme aired on Saturday lunchtime.

“There is no doubt that people will be well versed in everything that is going on. Two hours of current affairs prepares people for satire,” says Callan of his new slot.


It will allow him to write up to the wire with the most contemporary take on events. That includes a sketch of President Michael D Higgins, a perennial favourite, inspired by his intervention in Europe this week which will be aired tomorrow.

Along with the usual gallery of characters, Callan (32) has added a few more including the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter, golfer Rory McIlroy, Olympic champion Katie Taylor, a foaming at the mouth Senator Rónán Mullen who is Senator Rónán Gollum in one of the sketches and Fine Gael TD Peter Mathews.

One of the sketches involves Enda Kenny singing Croke Park to the tune of Downtown with his loyal hound Hogan by his side.

Callan has promised a harder edge to the satire in keeping with the times with fewer “cheap gags” and toilet humour.

He has assembled a team including former newspaper editor Paul Drury, who is the creative editor of the show and journalists Fiona Looney, Paddy Murray along with cartoonist Graham Keyes and Paddy Cullivan who fronts the Late Late Show house band The Camembert Quartet

“It is better to make the point and have people think they've got the knife in underneath,” Callan says.

"It is tapping in that rage people feel in Ireland. We don't got on the streets and throw petrol bombs. We intend to laugh our rage off and laugh with rage at the same time. This is an opportunity for it.

“Every thing we do with Callan's Kicks starts with a realisation: ‘What on Earth and how is this happening?’ That's the best starting point."

Green Tea raised the hackles of one particular target in Kerry footballer Paul Galvin who accousted Callan in a Dublin pub.

It did not deter Callan from continuing to satirise the fashion-loving footballer and he intends to continuing do so if the occasion arises, referring to Galvin's blog last week where he models a pair of burgundy shorts.

“I would hate to not do him because of our history together, but at the same time I’m kind of reluctant to do him as it might be perceived to be a personal attack on the man,” he says.

Callan joked that he was 'mortally offended for humanity' by remarks made by Labour TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin who described the people of Callan's native county of Monaghan as 'latently homophobic' in a secretly taped inteview.

As a gay Monaghan man, who came out after his appearance on the Saturday Night Show in 2011, Callan said he has not experienced homophobia in his native county.

“I'm one of the few people that the world and his dog knows is gay,” he says. “I had a very good response. If anything, I found myself more ignorant of what I expected their views might be.

“If you go into the local pub and you look at the old bachelor farmer and the fellows who would be stereotypically the homophobes and I found them nothing of the sort.

“They would use some old country euphemisms around it. They would say, 'you did very well in the interview'. I'm not naïve to say that homophobia does not exist in rural areas, but where it exists is usuallyin groups of old boys clubs and fellows who think there is nobody gay in their presence.”

Callan confirmed that he intends to press ahead with assault proceedings against his old manager James McDonald and has never repaired the friendship with his old mentor and collaborator Mario Rosenstock.

The pair ended up in a court case in 2006 when Callan sued Rosenstock over royalties arising from the bestselling Gift Grub albums.

“I haven't seen or spoken to him since 2006,” confirmed Callan. “If I saw him, I would be included to say hello. I don't know what kind of a reaction I'd get. He's not the type of guy who wanted to work as a duo. I thought he probably should. He was really well established by the time I was starting. I do regret the way it ended up. It is often unavoidable when you are rivals in the same space.”

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times