Review: Jingle all the way for Brown’s boys
Comedy: How Now Mrs Brown Cow, 3Arena, Dublin
It's official: Agnes Brown is bigger than the Queen. Brendan O'Carroll isn't doing a John Lennon and making an equivalent to the claim that The Beatles are bigger than Jesus, but a timely TV ratings fact to chew on as we face Christmas. The astonishing truth is the Mrs Brown's Boys annual special reached more viewers than the Queen's speech.
O'Carroll is accustomed to bad reviews and critical sneering, but his shows buck every trend going and become runaway hits. The takings for the live franchise are as brisk as the much maligned movie.
Fresh from six shows in Belfast, the latest episode of the so-called Mrs Brown 'trilogy', which is surely reaching Star Wars levels of elongation, comes to Dublin for an equally long run and a Saturday afternoon matinee.
The supposed final live show of the Mrs Brown series sees O'Carroll's Agnes Brown looking forward to her son Trevor's long-awaited Christmas visit.
Meanwhile, Mrs Brown's children discover their mother is in contact with an adoption lawyer, raising questions about their own origins.
Initially, it looks and feels like glorified TV set in a massive arena, but the rapturous warmth from the audience greeting each character tells its own story.
Even though the show has been touring for months, gags about Conor McGregor are bang up-to-date.
It certainly isn't pushing any new boundaries for comedy, but you'd be a clown to claim it doesn't do what it says on the tin.
O'Carroll is a master of comic timing, even when the gags are as cheesy as a pack of Easi-Singles.
The show also has all the brisk pace of a Christmas special. Some of the scenes may be too short, but it rattles along nicely to a feel-good holiday ending that you'd have to be a total Scrooge not be slightly moved by.
Against all the odds, this homecoming run of Mrs Brown's Boys is a festive treat to delight its legion of fans. It probably won't convert you if you're a naysayer, but if you were to see it, you might well be pleasantly surprised.