by James Fleming
Two barstools set facing each other at slight angles on the stage, a microphone resting on each one. A three-quarters full room in a hotel in the centre of Tuam, Co. Galway. The scene is set for an evening of humour of the most low-brow sort…
There’s an art to the insult, especially the comedic one. There’s a line between merely insulting, and insulting with a hint of creativity. For the latter see Frankie Boyle.
The first comedian to tread the boards and our MC that evening is in the former camp. His “jokes” vary between mildly insulting to very insulting, but are utterly humourless.
“I hate spoilt kids. Like the kids who get anything they want… Y’know, Make A Wish Kids.”
Similarly below-the-belt digs are thrown around liberally for the following hour. The only difference being the comedians who spout them.
Tommy Tiernan, Michael D. Higgins, Katie Taylor and Michael McIntyre all graced the stage in the form of an impressionist. An impressionist who’s impressions are best described as “vaguely recognisable”.
And when that’s the whole point of your act, it makes it a very dull point indeed.
Granted, impressions are generally a part of a comedy act rather than the act itself, as is the case here. But that doesn’t change the fact that each impression overstays its welcome considerably. Tommy Tiernan in particular, to use the man himself’s words, went “on and on and on and fuckin’ on.”
A very welcome intermission followed. Drinks were ordered and cigarettes smoked. While we the crowd waited for the funny-people to grace us with their presence.
Cue another awkward five minutes with the MC where he did his best to insult members of the crowd but was met with such vicious heckling that he was left speechless. And rather than continue on with his act, he introduced the next comedian.
A small man with big stage presence, a welcome and refreshing change from what we had experienced thus far on this January night.
By engaging with the audience rather than abusing us, a distinct impression was made. However, this impression was made based mostly on that fact rather than the strength of his material.
And then, the act we’d all been waiting for…
Farmer Michael and his wife Kathleen took to the stage and proceeded to rip apart foreigners, homosexuals, politicians, and even underage youngsters who snook into the gig.
Whether or not you find this funny depends entirely on your sense of humour. However, where the previous comedians dealt exclusively in low-brow humour and merely came across as unimaginative. Farmer Michael brings a hint of satire to the table and much more stage presence than the acts he shared the stage with.
Michael and his wife Kathleen felt like a breath of fresh air compared to the previous comedians. However, I’m skeptical as to whether this was due to the quality of the material, or the lack thereof in their support acts.
In true rural Ireland fashion, the evening wound up with a sing-song. And as we filed out into the night with various four-letter words ringing in our ears. The pervading feeling was one of profound disappointment.