Siblings: Barry Andrews & David McSavage

 

David McSavage, comedian, and Barry Andrews, Fianna Fáil TD, are the eldest of five children of former TD and Minister for Foreign Affairs, David Andrews, and his wife Annette. They are, accordingly, the grandsons of Todd Andrews and the nephews of former MEP Niall Andrews.

They grew up in Blackrock, Co Dublin along with three younger sisters:Sinead, who works for Goal, Clare and Mary, "who asked to be described a tall, beautiful blonde," says Barry. She is studying at the College of Surgeons. "A doctor in the family at last," says David.

Barry took over his father's Dáil seat in Dún Laoghaire in the 2002 election and is vice-chairman of the European Affairs Committee. He taught history before qualifying as a barrister. He and his wife are expecting their first child.

David has two sons and appears regularly as a street performer in Temple Bar, at comedy venues, and on the Late Late Show. He was arrested during the 1986 Edinburgh Festival for profanity. The case was dismissed after he argued that the word "war" was more profane than the word "penis".

For a flavour of his work (and his spelling) and news of forthcoming gigs, see his website, www.davidmcsavage.com

DAVID McSAVAGE

Me and Barry. Yeah. Well there was always a lot of rivalry. I was always crying out for attention, and Barry always got it. It made me crazy, really jealous, so I became a terrible tease. Eventually I found a more acceptable way of getting attention by going on stage.

I was always looking for my father's approval. I wasn't any good at school or at sports, so I got no praise or attention from him at all. I could always make him laugh, though. That I could do. And that's what I am doing for a living. Looking for affirmation.

I love performing and I have an almost desperate need to do it. I suffer from performalism. I was always in trouble for messing. Getting in trouble excited me. Barry and I never hung out together. I was the black sheep. I didn't fit.

I had to get out of the country, away from my family. I felt very repressed. I went away out of Dublin. I hated the place. So I went to New York for a while, and Boston. Lived in Japan for a year-and-a-half, busking and teaching English and getting laid. I've definitely had more sex than Barry, by the way.

Dad disappointed me as well as me disappointing him. I wish he had been an actor. I think he would have been happier. He would have been good at it. He would have been good in Westerns. He's a very principled man, very honest; he has a very strong sense of right and wrong. He's very rugged, very appealing, but there was never any overt show of emotion. He could out-Wayne John Wayne. Leave you behind like Clint Eastwood.

My father may be stiff but he is dead honest, really honest. Never implicated in any wrongdoing. Barry will be the same. I wasn't surprised when Barry became a politician, that he followed on in the family tradition.

I feel sorry I was never close to Barry. I feel sorry I wasn't a better big brother to him. I teased him unmercifully. He was very cute though, very cherubic. He knew how to get his way.

I am very glad about my two sons, though; they are very close and supportive of one another. My father and his brother Niall; they were possibly closer than me and Barry.

Barry is naturally a funnier guy than I am. Wittier. Very sharp, quick and honest. I hope he will show more of his personality.

I'm the wayward one, a bit self-destructive. Barry's got an old soul. A couple of years ago I was in Edinburgh, and Hannah and the boys (we were separated at the time) had come to Ireland from Poland for a holiday. Barry rang me and said "If you don't get back here I'm never talking to you again." He looks after me in his way.

A lot of stuff goes unsaid but I guess we both want things to get better. I go to a therapist now, which is good. It's like having an accountant if you are bad with money.

BARRY ANDREWS

David has tried everything, been all over the world. My mother is very much the glue that binds the family; she has kept everyone together.

At school, from the very beginning, he was always into drama - he'd play the lead in plays at Willow Park and in various dramas at Blackrock College. He had a real talent and has been able to develop that talent into a career. But you know in those days, the education system didn't really measure that kind of talent.

He has always been very funny. He would just kill you, crack you up, even in the middle of a row. He puts on a cabaret at the drop of a hat and is forever entertaining people. That's really been him all his life.

When we were in Willow Park he played the lead in Maid of the Mountains, I think it was called. I was in the chorus. The story goes that our grandfather [Todd Andrews] keeled over into the aisle.

We were always into different stuff: David was into Judge Dredd and sci-fi, and I was reading soccer mags and The Famous Five and The Secret Seven.

He was always very verbal, a very good mimic, making fun of everyone, crazy stuff, jumping around. Pure slapstick. Did he help Dad in any elections? Well, I remember a time when he covered a dog with about 60 stickers with Dad's name on them. I think he was retired from the canvass shortly after that.

We didn't hang out with the same crowd. When I finished college, I went to Australia, and David told me to look up some friends of his. So I did, and we've been friends ever since. David subsequently lost all interest in them. He likes to say I stole his friends.

The first time I went to see him perform was in Copenhagen, and I came away really impressed. That was when I knew he was going to make it as a comedian.

He got arrested in Edinburgh in 1996. I went over to see him with Sinead. Were in the audience; he was busking on the Royal Mile and police arrested him. He shouted at me to get his stuff, which I did, and then I went to the police station. I was in my final year of Law and thought I could be the big brother, but I was sent packing. I was of no use to him, whatsoever. When the case was thrown out, he was carried shoulder-high by all the other buskers.

I found a great present for him a couple of years ago, a report card from Blackrock College, and I had it framed for him. It was from Third Year, I think, and it read something like this:

"Dear Mr and Mrs Andrews,
I regret to inform you that your son David was seen today on the dual-carriageway waving at cars and smoking a cigar when he should have been at P.E."

He has it on his wall to this day.

In conversation with Patsey Murphy