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Mario's got plenty of bite left, it's just a pity none of it goes into his shows

Two weeks ago, Pat Kenny was asked about whether his departure from RTE had anything to do with a recent drop in Prime Time's ratings.

"I'd rather not say anything," he replied, "and let people draw their own conclusions."

What Pat is really saying is that of course the show is missing him, while pretending that he is too generous of spirit to gloat about it.

Smugness is a particularly unattractive trait and after having been stupendously well paid by RTE for many years, it seemed particularly mall-minded. Which brings us nicely to Mario Rosenstock.

Mario was asked by a Sunday newspaper about the ratings for Oliver Callan's Friday night comedy show, which fell from an opening figure of 367,000 to 263,000 last week.

There is no love lost between the two comedians, with bad blood seeming to have festered since the day that Callan walked out as Mario's partner on Gift Grub back in 2006.

Relations were not helped when, nearly two years ago, Callan tweeted the following comment about the Mario Rosenstock Show, which had just aired on RTE.

"Mario was very poor. Savage Eye won't lose any sleep. Plus we did that Flatley stuff on the G.Ryan Show years ago."

But in hindsight, Callan had a point. While Mario can be bitingly funny, he seems to have become soft-centered, a bit old-fashioned, and more conscious about doing fawning impressions of celebs that will generate column inches.

The manner in which Miriam O'Callaghan and Donal Skehan have complimented him on his portrayals suggest that he is not averse to currying favour, rather than sending up, the objects of his satire. And this week he introduced, perhaps unwittingly, a new character to his repertoire - Pat Kenny.

"I don't want to stick the boot in if his figures are bad," said Mario about Callan's Kicks, "but audiences are the best judges of what's good."

It's a comment that Pat could have scripted himself, and Rosenstock's analysis of the figures is not only unfunny, it's patently inaccurate.

Starting with the absurd gambit that "the test card would get an audience at 9.30pm on a Friday", Mario attempted to claim that the 267,000 viewers he got on average last October were also obtained during "good weather", which entirely misses the point.

BITCHY

While Oliver had the impossible task 10 days ago of getting people into their living rooms on the sunniest day of the year; Mario's October show goes on late at night when most people are in front of their tellies.

Ultimately, the spat between the two comedians is as unnecessary as it is unseemly. There is plenty of room for both on RTE's schedules, and they come across as two married men fighting over the same mistress.

Callan pertinently commented that Mario's material these days "seems entirely aimed at befriending celebrities." Rosenstock has shown, in his bitchy outburst at Callan, that he still has some bite left in him.

It's a shame he doesn't put that bite into his TV material.


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