Monday 26 February 2018

Review: Al Porter's Today FM debut is full of promise - even if some jokes fall flat on air

Al Porter. Picture:Brian McEvoy
Al Porter. Picture:Brian McEvoy

Stephen Byrne

It's not often that radio presenters live up to their hype - especially when you're consistently billed as "the next Graham Norton" at every turn - but 23-year-old Al Porter's debut on his new Today FM afternoon slot showed some exciting promise.

Porter began in his typical self-deprecating style, describing his performance with Linda Martin on Friday's Late Late Show as possibly the worst television the nation had ever seen.

It is this honesty and self-awareness which will serve him well on the airwaves.

The comedian’s off the cuff comedic delivery transfers well to the broadcasting studio - if one punch-line doesn’t land, the next one isn’t far behind. If anybody thought that he was simply a lewd one-trick-pony, Porter’s brief rundown of his life experience quickly displayed that he is an industrious, socially conscious person, who has worked with Concern and writes and regularly stars in the epitome of family entertainment - The Olympia pantomime.

Linda Martin and Al Porter opening The Late Late Show Valentine's special last night Photo: Andres Poveda
Linda Martin and Al Porter opening The Late Late Show Valentine's special last night Photo: Andres Poveda

Rather than trying to mimic Dermot and Dave’s well established format, Porter’s debut attempted to establish him as the everyman you can speak to about anything.

He utilised his family to establish this - his father, the military man, his mother, the local church worker and his sister; the special needs assistant. And, as for his brother, "Well I don’t know what my brother does, but he drives a BMW so he must be a drug dealer”.

Most of the calls centered around Valentine’s Day with Porter eager to talk about the prospect of speed dating at Macari’s Take Away in Glasnevin and speed-cycling in Galway. 

The incoming texts and calls were handled with aplomb, and he wasn’t afraid to speak frankly about his own demons and encourage his listeners to seek help.

When Porter asked his first caller, “Are you being a b**ch Stephen?, it intimated what’s in store for listeners and unique to his show - no established voice on Irish radio would attempt to use such intimate colloquialisms.

The 'Kidult' phenomenon, whereby children in their 30s still live at home because they can’t afford to rent or buy property, was discussed.

The difficulty for children and parents was tackled with suggested “roommate agreements”.

“How do you bring someone home?” asked Porter before lamenting, “why should I be celibate because the economy changed?”

However, the show was not without its flaws, with one joke in particular proving less effective than a North Korean missile.

"What do Shane Ross and Zac Efron have in common?” Porter asked, giving listeners 15 minutes to come up with the answer.

When the punchline “neither of them have a tattoo of Roy Keane on their ass” arrived, it was literally a pointless answer.

It was a low point in an otherwise impressive debut from Al Porter.

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