Time for snobby critics to realise Mrs Brown is having the last laugh
FUNNY? Brendan O’Carroll enjoys the crack as he shoots the new Mrs Brown movie on Moore Street.
Long slated by critics, comedian Brendan O'Carroll couldn’t care less as he basks in sell-out shows and a huge fan base.
Filming for Mrs Brown's Boys: D'Movie took place this week on Moore Street, where fans have been mobbing their favourite Irish Mammy and her family as they shoot scenes with real stallholders.
The €5m production is the first in a ‘four-part trilogy,' according to O'Carroll, in which matriarch Agnes Brown finds herself pitted against an Eastern European developer who wants to bulldoze her stall and build apartments.
Embattled Agnes also has to deal with millions of euro in debts, a legacy of an unpaid tax bill stretching back to her grandmother's time. It sounds like exactly the sort of comical storyline that Mrs Brown's army of fans will lap up. The Dublin matriarch is already a global phenomenon – hugely popular in Ireland and the UK, Mrs Brown's Boys is the number one comedy show on Romanian television.
It also recently began showing in Canada, and all 220,000 tickets to the stage show sold out in Australia. The movie will be the icing on the cake for O'Carroll and what is probably the most popular television franchise ever to come out of Ireland.
The fact that the comedian employed members of his own family all the way along is also notable.
However, there is a fly in the ointment. Despite O'Carroll's incredible success, the critics turn up their noses at his work. Even winning a Bafta award for Best Situation Comedy hasn't changed him.
Is it just begrudgery? After all, the Irish are renowned for knocking someone who's reached the top of their game. As Bono said: “In the United States, you look at the guy that lives in the mansion on the hill, and you think, ‘you know, one day, if I work really hard, I could live in that mansion’. In Ireland, people look up at the guy in the mansion on the hill and go, one day, I'm going to get that b******’.”
Or maybe it's not the green-eyed monster – maybe the TV critics genuinely don't find Mrs Brown funny. After all, humour is subjective – what one person finds hilarious, another simply doesn't.
That said, it is remarkable how so many of them are united in their dislike of O'Carroll's show. Could it be that there's simple snobbery at play?
It's much the same in the book industry where critics will generally agree that literary novels (usually written by men) are far superior to ‘commercial' books written by women for women, even though the topics addressed in both are often broadly similar.
It's rare for a book reviewer to say that they've enjoyed something that's considered ‘low-brow,' just as it's almost unheard of for a TV critic to admit that they've actually chuckled at Mrs Brown's antics.
But just as the bestseller lists don't lie, neither do the TV ratings and that must be the sweetest feeling of for Finglas native O’Carroll. The comedian doesn't need anyone's validation anymore.
When asked to explain the show's appeal, he's as straight talking as his famous creation. “People are really, really down and this is a comedy that's not trying to be clever and not trying to be anything except make you laugh,” he said this week.
“There's not enough programmes on television that you can sit down for half an hour and laugh. That's what we aim to do. We're not trying to give a message, we're not trying to say this is how you raise your family.
“What we're trying to say is every bit of this should try to be funny anyway and it's working. We're not pleasing the critics, but then if the critics could write what I write they wouldn't be f***ing critics.”
Mrs Brown herself couldn't have put it any better.