sun 26/05/2024

Ardal O'Hanlon, Touring | reviews, news & interviews

Ardal O'Hanlon, Touring

Ardal O'Hanlon, Touring

Laid-back anecdotal humour from the likeable Irishman

Patently nice: Ardal O'Hanlon

Ardal O'Hanlon is best known as Father Dougal in the much missed Father Ted (created by Arthur Mathews and Graham Linehan), but he started life as a stand-up and he clearly brought many of his own qualities – although not the dimwittedness – to the lovable Irish priest, as an hour of his latest show proves. He riffs on matters ranging from Catholic guilt and racial stereotyping to monogamy and paedophilia without once offending anyone.

In fact, he tells us, his unwillingness to cause offence makes him singularly unsuited to the role of stand-up. Not for him the brazenness of comics such as Frankie Boyle or Jimmy Carr, and even when he deliberately uses racial (although not racist) stereotypes to describe the French or the Germans, it's to make rather neat jokes that upends them.

He found himself apologising to a guy who mugged him on a bus once

In his view modern Germans don't appear to be too embarrassed about their political inheritance, and maybe by way of reparation they should lose a few matches on penalties – which goes down well with the predominantly English audience at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury, where I saw his show. As that indicates, O'Hanlon's comedy is delightfully subtle and when he talks about Irish politicians, who “always look like they've broken something” he does a neat pantomime by way of illustration.

O'Hanlon says he became a comic by accident; he wanted to become a footballer when he was a lad, when he thought that a top coach might just happen to visit the small town he grew up in in Ireland and discover his amazing skills. But that was never likely as his neighbour never threw back his ball when it landed on his garden and his talent, therefore, “was for running into space”. That, for non-football fans, is a very fine joke that works on several levels, both about the game and the repetitive nonsense that football commentators spout.

The comic has a rather eccentric view on life – he even found himself apologising to a guy who mugged him on a bus once – and his anecdotal humour doesn't always have a big pay-off. And, while the stories in themselves are funny and original, ultimately they lack a unifying theme that would have given a backbone to the show.

“I don't have a big finish,” O'Hanlon says as his hour (rather stingy by touring standards) comes to an end. And yes, his laidback approach doesn't make for comic fireworks but it's 60 minutes spent in the company of a patently nice man.

  • Ardal O'Hanlon is touring until 1 December
While the stories in themselves are funny and original, ultimately they lack a unifying theme


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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