Dave Allen dies in London, aged 68

 

Irish-born humorist Dave Allen, whose satirical, storytelling style of comedy spawned countless imitators, has died aged 68 at his west London home. The comedian made his name in a series of television shows in the 1970s which saw him perched on a stool, telling jokes with a whiskey and a cigarette in hand.

Credited with changing the way comedians in Britain presented their material, he railed against the political and religious establishment, often drawing upon his Catholic upbringing in Ireland.

"The institution you never laughed at in Irish society as a kid was the church," he once told The Irish Times. "It was all right to snigger at the Church of Ireland but certainly not to laugh at the Church of Rome. I've used that ever since."

Eddie Izzard was among those to pay tribute yesterday. He described Allen as an original. "He was a torchbearer for all the excellent Irish comics who have followed in recent years."

Broadcaster Gay Byrne, who interviewed Allen on the Late Late Show, said: "He was a tremendous observer of the idiocies of life and brought them brilliantly to the screen and the stage."

Pauline McLynn, Jack Dee, Ed Byrne and Dylan Moran are among the many contemporary comedians to have cited Allen as an influence.

Allen, real name David Tynan O'Mahony, grew up in Dublin, although there is some debate about whether it was there or in his parents' home county of Limerick that he was born. In a letter to this paper in 1998, he resolved the issue thus: "I'm not sure where I was when I was born, as I was very young at the time. But I do know that I was with my mother..."

He made his British TV debut on New Faces in 1959 and several years of stand-up followed. While in Australia he was offered his own show, Tonight with Dave Allen. A British version was made in 1967 followed by The Dave Allen Show in 1968. Dave Allen at Large began on the BBC in 1971. His last TV show, Dave Allen, ended in 1994.

In recent years, as a keen amateur artist, he exhibited his own paintings.

Allen had suffered a mild illness over Christmas but appeared to have recovered. He leaves a wife, Karin, and three children.