Pat brings his show back to its roots
Fergus Dennehy talks to legendary Irish comedian Pat Shortt about his upcoming show in Dingle, how he always loves coming back to Kerry, the Healy Rae’s and what we can expect from him in the future
When asked to interview one of Ireland's most beloved and legendary comedians, Pat Shortt, I will freely admit that my heart started to beat just that little bit faster, such is the star quality attached to the former 'Father Ted', 'Killinascully', 'Garage' and 'Smalltown' actor.
His performance as Tom in Father Ted is one of my personal all time favourite characters in the show, I mean, who could forget that scene with the rabbits and vice?
I think it's safe to say that everyone has their own favourite memory of him and so, the chance to interview him about his upcoming live comedy show, 'How's Tings' in Dingle's Hillgrove Hotel on Friday July 7, was one that I could not turn down.
Alongside his longtime friend and co-star John Kenny, Pat rose to fame through the hugely successful D'Unbelievables and it is tis relationship with John that he credits with making him into the man that he is today.
"It all started for me when I bumped into John Kenny one day, I went to art college in Limerick and really it was John that introduced me to comedy - I was just a saxophone musician, playing jazz and all that when I was a young fella," said Pat, speaking last Thursday.
"The opportunity to work with John was fantastic, I started playing a bit of music with him and then of course the craic started and of course, I loved all the fun we were having and I really admired John for all of the individual stand up that he had done even before I met him, I was absolutely blown away by his comedy."
"We worked closely together then for a while and then of course we came up with D'Unbelievables and sure the rest is history after that," he continued.
"That was my first interaction in comedy and I think that when John got ill then a year or two later, I went out on my own then and thus this was my first ever venture as a solo performer and getting into stand up and all that."
"Here we are 16 years later, I've done so much in the in the meantime, it's been amazing."
Pat's upcoming show in Dingle is a return to his roots, so to speak as he returns to the county where himself and his team first perfected the show that will be entertaining the West Kerry audience next Friday night, a little local coincidence that suprises me, before Pat explains how it all came about.
"I used to do all these runs in a small theatre/studio in Limerick and we'd invite about a 100 or so people in and we'd have a bar in and we'd have a bit of craic and do the show you know and after a while I started to worry - 'are these just all my friends now and are they laughing because they have to?!'" he chuckled to himself.
"The lady that runs the theatre in Waterville was mad for me to come down and do something there and I just thought, wouldn't it be great to come in there for a week if we could, we'd rent a house in the area and it's just a great way to work, you know."
"You're in there all day working away, come home and cook dinner and just head down to the pub then for a drink, go for a walk on the beach and head back in and do some more work and then at the end of the week, we were able to put on two shows for the locals and get an honest reaction and by god, they wouldn't be long telling you what they thought!"
It's safe to say that Pat is excited in what will be his first ever show in West Kerry, something which he says that the locals can very much look forward to on Friday.
"This will be my first time playing in Dingle ever. I've been down for the film festival and other things now but this will be my first proper time performing there so I'm very excited about it, I have to say,"
"It'll be great craic, I'm looking forward to it! I've played the INEC in Killarney and of course down the years, I've played Tralee and Listowel - we always used to try our shows out in Listowel - and we always get a huge reaction from the Kerry crowd."
"It [playing in Dingle] is something new and I suppose after being down there with the lads and its such a beautiful area down there and the people are so nice. It's funny, you sometimes play the big venues and you forget to go off and play the smaller venues - there's just something you get when you go to smaller areas that's extra special."
So, what can people expect from the night? Well, as Pat says, if you're a fan of his comedy, then you'll know what to expect!
"Right from the word go, I'm going to right stick into the audience and I think that anyone that is a fan of Pat Shortt is going to see a lot of familiar things in the show; with the audience of course, I never set out to upset anyone of course, I just want to get stuck right into it and have a bit of fun, mayhem and madness with everyone," he continued.
"I love the stage work, I do a lot of film and TV work, but stage is an instant reaction you know, the craic is mighty and especially when you're doing comedy and the comedy that I do. You go down into the crowd and you're right in there and you can just see the faces looking back at you, wondering 'jaysus, will he ever just stay away from me?!"
"The one thing about my characters is that they know everyone in the audience personally and the audience becomes the local community and so I'm going to be coming out on stage talking to the people like I've known them all my life; the fun is always on my characters and never on the people in the audience."
"That's the 'Irishness' of what I do and in the past, I've been described by critics as indigenously Irish I love that because it is that one on one conversation with the audience that I have that you won't get from other performers - I bring the stage to them," he continued.
Our focus on the many characters in his act, I can't resist the oppoortunity to elicit his reaction on two of Kerry's most famous headline grabbers and political duo, the Healy Rae's - a subject which draws a huge guffaw from the comedian.
"Nobody would believe me if I wrote a character based on those two! You just couldn't write what the Healy Rae's say - there's the climate change stuff that Danny was talking about in the Dáil and you know, it's just unbelievable what he's come out with," he chuckled.
"I'll give them credit though, they have their audience and while Danny may be a rogue, he's their rogue you know," he chuckled again.
"You certainly won't be seeing a Healy Rae-esque character on a Pat Shortt stage anytime soon let me tell you!"
"My characters and my inspiration for material, you're always just picking up different things from everyday life and your experiences and people you've met' someone actually asked me in the past if I ever thought I'd run out of characters and I said 'not at all!'.
"Once there's Irish people out there, there's always going to be characters out there - you can see them out in all ages, shapes and sizes. I'm always watching people and seeing how they interact so I'll be flying it." he continued.
Pat will perform his "How's Tings" show on the night of Friday July 7 in the at 8pm; tickets are set to cost €35 and are available by calling 0669131000 or by heading over to www.ticketmaster.ie