By Cormac McCarthy
For a long while there, it seemed that Ireland’s international reputation for comedy would lie in the hands of just Father Ted, Mrs Brown’s Boys and Pat Short. All institutions unto themselves, however, it is nigh time for some fresh blood to be thrown into the mix.
And from this dearth in good quality Irish comedy, there comes a new roster of fresh minds eager to entertain and delight. Each film not only entertains but also celebrates all of the quirks to Irishness without ever veering towards a hint of Paddywhackery.
A common theme throughout all of Irish comedy is the underdog and their efforts to succeed in the big bad world. Redemption of a Rogue and Deadly Cuts are two such films. I mention these two in particular as they are both available to stream on Netflix.
Both black comedies deal with characters out of their depths while struggling to keep it all together. Deadly Cuts concerns a group of salon workers who take on the local mob in hilarious fashion in order to defend their local community. It is as hilarious as it is endearing. The cast has such wonderful chemistry together. I would nearly want to have a haircut there myself purely for the banter that occurs between them.
Redemption of a Rogue was the winner of Best Irish Film at the Galway films festival. This dark and often sometimes unnerving comedy concerns a son’s return home to see his dying father in West Kerry. A credit that must be given to the film is its pitch-perfect tone. The characters discuss sordid details of death in such a dry tone that it never once seems overdone or excessive.
Other comedies include The Drummer and the Keeper and Extraordinary. Two films about unlikely friendships and the trouble it causes for them. Two quite lighthearted films that highlight the importance of companionship in the busy burgeoning world that is Dublin city.
Dead Lies the Island and A Bump in the Road, while not for the faint of heart and may lean more towards the dramatic side, are still two films that deserve a watch. The kitchen-sink realism of each intertwines with a wonderfully witty tone which makes the more poignant moments so wonderfully true to life.
It’s not just films where we are seeing a blossoming new landscape for Irish comedians and comics, there are numerous television pieces that deserve to be celebrated.
Derry Girls is now nearing the premiere of its third and final season. It is no secret to regular readers of the Express of my love of this show. It perfectly captures the madness of adolescence while never forgetting the deep horror and confusion that The Troubles brought to the North. It is a revelation.
Graham Norton’s book Holding has finally been adapted into a tv series, premiering on ITV in three weeks time. The program concerns a murder in a breezy village in West Cork. If it is as anyway as charming as the novel, then It is sure to be a hoot. It features the comedic talents of Siobhán McSweeney, Charlene McKenna and Michael Fry.
For the more light-hearted comedy enthusiasts, there are the comedy efforts of sibling actors Brian and Domhnall Gleeson in Frank of Ireland. Set in Dublin, it tells the tale of thirty-something musician Frank whose efforts to finally put his life finally on track are often foiled by his own inability to focus or to not fall into every hijinks that come his way.
We would be remiss, of course, if we didn’t mention the efforts of impressionist extraordinaire, Oliver Callan. While Callan could never be accused of being up-and-coming, his tv show Callan’s Kicks has been praised as being a springboard for young Irish comedians to flex their comedic muscles. It is a marvellously biting satire of Irish life and is streaming currently on RTE Player.