Sunday 22 April 2018

Darragh McManus: 'The Late Late Show isn't always awful, it's just awful often enough to make you avoid it'

Ryan Tubridy hosts the Late Late Show. Picture: Andres Poveda
Ryan Tubridy hosts the Late Late Show. Picture: Andres Poveda
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

Late Late specials are – let’s be needlessly brutal in our honesty here – pretty much the only reason to watch the show anymore.

It’s not that the Late Late is always awful; it’s just that it’s awful often enough to make any sane person avoid the programme as a matter of course, in case they stumble upon one of those awful episodes and are left traumatised and crying into their fists like a big baby.

But the specials are decent. The Toy Show, obviously; that C&W thing a few weeks back was good if you’re a country music fan; and anything related to Eurovision, the greatest thing invented in this continent since the Spartan loincloth.

Tonight’s LLS was a kind of half-special: a regular show was followed, at the end (and sort of in the middle), by Eurovision stuff. Confused? Allow me to explain…

The show started with a human interest story about a couple who had twin babies against the odds and an interview with horse-racing legend Jessica Harrington. Then we had Eurovision icon Johnny Logan singing his new single – he’d later return for an interview and acoustic set of his three classic contest-winning songs.

The new one sounded like “Hey Mona”, the 1980s hit by Craig whatsisname who made TV history by starring in both Neighbours AND Home & Away. It was drivel, really, but Johnny’s a nice ould divil; you’d wish him well, like.

Other items on tonight’s Late Late included a bunch of kids who won an award for inventing things, and a fitfully amusing bit with comedian Bernard O’Shea in which he ranted about ten aspects of modern Irish life that he’d like to consign to the dustbin. (They used an actual dustbin.)

These included Ed Sheeran, Peppa Pig and the Late Late itself – very meta-textual – and wasn’t madly funny. But, like J-Lo (gan), O’Shea seems to be a nice ould divil too. And his and Jennifer Zamparelli’s scripts for Bridget & Eamon are great.

Another human interest story – about young people dying from asthma attacks – led to the finale. I feel that’s a slightly too large word for what happened: Marty Whelan, Mairead Ronan, the guy off Crystal Swing and a singer called Cliona Hagan, along with piano-playing stalwarts Rónán Johnston  and Paul Harrington, sang a selection of Eurovision songs, as selected by Ryan Tubridy spinning what appeared to be a small fairground wheel.

That sounds like I’m putting it in précis to save space, but really, this is all that happened. A group of people sang five or six songs for no reason whatsoever.

It was bewilderingly pointless. Even Tubridy seemed to acknowledge that when saying, “I’ve no idea what happened for the last fifteen minutes.”

Still, it was worth doing, if only to annoy all those pompous tosspots on Twitter who spend their Friday nights droning on about “washed-up celebs and Eurovision and Tubs is so awful oh my God RTE this is crap ha ha thankfully I don’t bother paying my TV license”.

No, but you do spend your Friday nights being a pompous tosspot on Twitter…so the joke’s on you, dipstick. Everyone else involved either enjoys this sort of light-entertainment nonsense or was getting paid to watch/participate. Hash-tag go read a book, losers.

The show finished, in one of those trademark Late Late lurches in tone, with a piece on the Darkness into Light mental health campaign. Sure where else would you get it? See you for the next special. (Maybe.)

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