Friday 20 April 2018

hat-trick of misses

Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty





RTE execs have always been able to look at something and recognise it as a comedy, in much the same way that I can look at a vehicle on the road and say, with a good degree of certainty, that it's a car. But I don't understand how they work. And a jaundiced most intensely unamusing 90 minutes of television RTE has ever delivered, but that would be unfair. They have the broadcast rights to the football, after all.

First to walk the plank was Jason Byrne's Father Figure, which sees the hugely likable Balinteer man finally helm his own show in this Beeb-produced sit-com about English-based dad-of-two Tom Whyte. And, as traditional sit-coms go, this is as 1970s as flares and Man About The House. And about as funny.

That's not a bad thing, in itself. Not all comedy can be Seinfeld or Larry Sanders and there is a space for gentle, let's-laugh-at-this-because-it-is-vaguely-similar-to-something-Dad-would-do-at-home.

But 9pm ain't it.

And some of the jokes – particularly the lame Curly-Wurly one – preclude it from a tea time audience that may have seemed a more natural home.

We saw Byrne try to make up with his neighbours, a frightfully polite religious couple who may as well have been Ned and Maude Flanders, while Pauline McLynn and her long suffering Oirish husband laid on the thick Mick routine.

The last scene was probably meant to be some sly gag about the natural exuberance of the Irish in the face of such buttoned-down Home Counties repression.

Instead, the neighbours walked into a scene involving a giant Gypsy cake, The Pogues being blasted at full volume, chaos and a fight between Tom and his mother.

Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if is the exactly the kind of stereotype that will have the perpetually aggrieved Irish community in Britain writing furious letters of complaint when it airs later on the BBC.

After all, some of them still haven't forgiven Father Ted, so their reaction to this promises to be funnier than the show itself.

Take Mario Rosenstock's current favourite creation, Marty Morrissey.

The grin and the glint are all there, but it's the kind of impersonation whose biggest fan would probably be Marty Morrissey himself, which might make for a bit of crack in the RTE canteen, less so on our screens.

Likewise, a goodish Shawshank piss-take of John Waters and his recent inspection of the inside of a jail cell seemed to drag for longer than the sentence they were lampooning.

Undoubtedly the most successful character was Frances Brennan, who found himself inspecting not a hotel but a coke den where a gang of lads were sorting the drug.

His vaguely menacing bonhomie, coming across as entertainments manager on the ferry crossing the Styx, was brilliantly captured and just the right side of malevolent, even if it also dragged for too long.

The real test for Rosenstock would be to take himself out of his comfort zone and start to use his febrile talents in creating some original characters. After all, half his impersonations bare only a vague resemblance to reality, anyway.

Irish Independent

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