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Mario leaves a good impression

My father and I began to sweat. Michael Flatley was on his way over, and we both knew what was coming next.

"What's your name?" he asked my dad. Poor Dave. All he wanted to do was enjoy the show and now he was part of it. Yep, Dave was now 'Muise' -- the male lead in Flatley's latest (low-budget) dance show. The stage called, Flatley led the way, and pretty soon 'Muise' was performing a jig in front of 1,200 people. Just another ordinary night for Mario Rosenstock, then.

Indeed, the popular impressionist is at the peak of his powers. Twelve years in, and Gift Grub continues to delight Today FM listeners; its surreal yet wonderfully realised sketches an integral part of not just national radio, but Irish comedy in general. Last month, Rosenstock received the PPI Award for Outstanding Achievement in Radio. So, the guy has done well. But in front of a live audience the magic starts to disappear.


Things just aren't the same. It's a man wearing a cheap suit and a wig, pulling weird facial expressions while desperately trying to convince us that this is as good as tuning in on a weekday morning . . . but it's not. And while Gift Grub Live 2 is a vast improvement on its half-baked predecessor, there are still problems.

A lot of the material is weak, with some of Mario's most famous 'characters' falling flat as a result. Ronan Keating singing about wheelie bins? It's not funny. Keith Duffy dressed as a cricket player? Stupid. Bertie Ahern as a puppet? Mario, Mario -- you're better than this. We really could have done without the lame Mary Byrne skit, too.

Which is a shame, because when the guy is good, he's very, very good. His version of Tonight with Vincent Browne is even more entertaining than the real thing. As was his The Rose of Tralee as an over-the-top Dathi O Se. The Michael Flatley sketch is a hoot, and his hilarious impressions of both Gary Barlow and Louis Walsh deserved more time. But overall, what works so well on the radio, all too often disappoints in the flesh. HHHII

At the Olympia Theatre till November 26