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Callan fails to hit the back of the net with new material


Oliver Callan

Oliver Callan

Oliver Callan

“Who’s your sexy daddy?” My goodness, how many times can Oliver Callan get away with that line before it stops being funny?

Actually, I think we’ve already reached that point. And we all know who says it, right? Yep, Enda Kenny (or at least, Callan’s interpretation of him).

Indeed, such is our familiarity with the Monaghan impressionist’s long list of ‘characters’ (politicians, entertainers, broadcasters and so on), that they require little or no introduction at this stage. What matters is Callan’s ability to mimic all the little idiosyncrasies and vocal traits of his chosen targets.

Let’s get one thing straight – Oliver Callan (34) is brilliant at taking people off. They don’t all hit the back of the net, but rest assured, he does a cracking Bryan Dobson (‘Dobbo’). A marvellous Eamon Dunphy, too. But as a writer? Uh, he hasn’t yet worked out that bit.

But wait – hasn’t this chap had his own television show, the hugely successful Callan’s Kicks? Is he not a permanent fixture on RTE Radio One and the second-most popular satirist and impressionist in this country (you know who number-one is)? Yes. Yes, he is. Alas, despite his popularity, Callan’s material leaves a lot to be desired. And that’s not good enough.

Enda Kenny making a speech about water taxes? Oh, come on. Daniel O’Donnell bemoaning the size of Mars bars these days? I don’t get it. Re-enacting the entire series of Charlie in three minutes? Clearly, Callan just wanted to break out his Nidge impression (wrong show, Oliver). And the Marty Morrissey love tour of Ireland is just lame.

The problem with taking this stuff off of the radio and planting it on a stage is that it loses whatever little edge it had in the beginning, to the point where it’s just a man dressed in silly wigs pretending to be other people for two hours.

As for the musical section, well, Callan’s Christy Moore is a hoot, but his Bruce Springsteen effort is God-awful. And what the heck is up with that Imelda May skit?

Granted, The Sunday Game sketch works particularly well, given that Callan is required to play not just Des Cahill, but the entire panel.

It’s actually pretty hilarious, and you gotta admire this guy’s energy and exuberance. Everything is up-to-date, too – no easy task, we’ll admit, but surely Oliver can do better than dick jokes involving Jedward.

A small spot of audience participation falls flat as Oliver pretends to be Leo Varadkar for a while (nice impression, weak material – and the real Leo is in the audience, would you believe). Sometimes, Callan loses the run of himself, occasionally slipping out of character and rambling on with lengthy monologues that either don’t make much sense or are painfully overwritten.

A lot of fuss, too, has been made about that Michael D Higgins impression of his. I don’t see why. The only thing wrong with it is that it’s not very good.

If there’s one thing that epitomises the entire show it’s Oliver Callan’s take on Louis Walsh; a truly exceptional piece of mimicry that works for, oh, about 30 seconds. And then you realise that he has absolutely no idea where to go with it. Not a patch on Mario Rosenstock, I’m afraid. ***