Short on gags but the fans are happy to laugh along
Vicar Street, Dublin
SAY what you will about Pat Shortt, but there's no denying his enormous appeal. The Thurles native is probably the country's most popular comic. This is the first of an 18-night run at the Dublin venue and, earlier in the week, he learned that the Christmas special of his 'Killinaskully' TV series, was the fourth most watched show in Ireland in 2008.
The reaction from the public and the critics could hardly be more different. His brand of visceral comedy -- centred around the sort of rural characters that are quickly becoming part of the past -- is as despised as much as it is adored.
But there's a lot of love for Pat -- and his numerous fictional creations -- with some audience members literally crying tears of laughter.
They are laughing more at his ability to embody a series of easily identifiable roles -- from irritating local busybody to self-important alcoholic do-gooder -- than for any actual gags, and there aren't a whole lot of them.
This one-man theatre of the absurd is set in a rural parish hall -- probably Tipperary, if references to Templetuohy and Clonoulty are anything to go by -- and finds Shortt going through more costume changes than the Spice Girls in concert.
But even though his characters are well drawn, almost all outstay their welcome. Still, Shortt's interaction with the crowd keeps things lively. His characters' jokes about the credit crunch seem just a little bit lame, though.
And lame is probably the word that best sums up the warm-up act, Joe Rooney -- a 'Killinaskully' regular. Just as well that the audience seems to be as amiable as Pat Shortt, because a tougher crowd would have roasted Rooney.