Editorial: 'We'll miss the big man who shook nation with Laughter'
'Due to circumstances beyond our control," the town hall notice in Galway read, "the Brendan Grace performance on Friday, August 16, has been cancelled. Full refunds will be given." It would be a rare no-show in a career of bringing down houses over five decades.
Brendan Grace, one of our greatest funnymen, has finally left the stage.
Having a sense that the world is a bit mad has never hurt a comedian, but few honed it as sharply as the Liberties entertainer.
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"None of us is the full shilling," he would tell audiences, while always making sure they had got their money's worth, sending waves of laughter rolling to the back walls of theatres across the country.
Humour is meant to be the cheapest medicine, but it is more precious than we know, and perhaps that is why Brendan Grace became a national treasure.
He had a gift for getting into the hearts and heads of the Irish public: gurriers, culchies and even agony aunts were grist to the mill for his peculiar comic genius.
His 'Dear Frankie' pieces, in which he gave out deadpan matronly advice to country girls trying to keep the sowing of wild oats in check, were a masterclass.
Dear Frankie's faith in the virtue of a tight woollen vest as a passion killer was never shaken.
Grace left the schoolroom at just 12 years of age but remained a class act for life.
Always bold enough to live life on his own terms, he was also always first to poke fun at himself whenever he could.
He would laugh at how his teacher, Brother Hurley, would ask: "What will you be when you leave school?"
Brendan would answer: "I don't know, brother, what will I be?"
"About 43," came the brother's reply.
In truth, by the time Brendan Grace was 43 he had headlined and packed sold-out shows in most of the world's capitals.
His enduring talent made sure that right up to his illness he was as popular as at any time during his illustrious career.
Much of this popularity came from an ability to take the hardest shots life could throw at you, and laugh in its face.
"We were too poor to have recessions," he would say.
He had an unrivalled ability to both recognise and satisfy our desire for the ridiculous.
From 'Father Ted' to his 'Father of the Bride' sketches, he took no prisoners. He proved there were no social barriers too high or too rigid that couldn't be levelled by a good belly-laugh.
It is only fitting to leave the last word on Brendan to another Dub, Seán O'Casey, who said: "Laughter is wine for the soul - laughter soft, or loud and deep, tinged through with seriousness, the hilarious declaration made by man that life is worth living."
The big man who shook the nation with laughter certainly made life worth living.