Ardal O’Hanlon (FringeTIX)
Ardal O’Hanlon @ Royalty Theatre
5:30pm, Sat 31 Mar 2007
I’ve no idea why I opted to see Ardal O’Hanlon; I remember picking up tickets from FringeTIX one day and getting very excited because an extra show had been added at the FF-friendly time of 5:30pm – or, as O’Hanlon put it, “right around the time I should be having breakfast”. A ticket was subsequently snaffled, but as I was wandering into the Royalty – along with hordes of other people – I had no idea of who I was there to see, nor why I was there to see him.
It turns out that O’Hanlon is an Irish comedian. Which I should have guessed, really, what with the “O’Hanlon” bit of his name, and the fact that his show was listed in the Comedy section of The Guide. He even looks like Denis Leary‘s dad, for christ’s sake, though labeling Leary a comedian (rather than “loud, opportunist, money-grubbing whore”) is a bit of a stretch. Of course, Leary’s also eight years older than O’Hanlon, and Irish-American, which just goes to show how poorly researched this whole paragraph has been.
…Irish comedian, eh? Oh yes – O’Hanlon has that gorgeous rhythm to his delivery that so many Irish comedians seem to possess, reminding me of the old comedy cassettes my parents used to play. He tended to draw on personal experiences – family, love, marriage – for material, but that didn’t prevent him from lauding the Irish cricket team. And the manner in which he handled an audience member’s protracted coughing fit with humour and grace was delightful.
O’Hanlon frequently went on long monotonic rambles, which would start innocuously enough, eliciting a guffaw or two, before progressing to compulsive near-constant giggling; the eventual punchline would bring with it tears of laughter. And those punchlines weren’t always the most clever, or absurd, or wacky comments; but he still found a way to deliver even the most obvious of outcomes in a way that felt fresh. And apart from a little profanity late in the gig, he tended to stay pretty much family friendly – after all, who can complain about a phrase like “underpants resident”?
Once upon a time, I went to see Tom Jones perform at the Ent Centre – purely because someone on the old Faith No More mailing list said that the Mike Patton vocal on “Star A.D.” was like an edgy Jones. Once I was there, though, it was easy to recognise that Jones is indeed a great performer; but I felt somewhat distanced from the show, because everyone else in the crowd was singing along to all the tunes – and I knew nowt.
In a way, that’s what this evening with Ardal O’Hanlon felt like… many (most?) of the audience knew O’Hanlon from his work on Father Ted – they certainly erupted with applause when the show was mentioned, anyway. And, once again, I could sense O’Hanlon’s quality, but felt somewhat disconnected from the performance… initially. But such was the polish of the man’s work that he won me back with ease – by the end of his set, I was laughing with the loudest of the fans in the audience.