Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Homegrown humour hits the spot with Patrick Kielty

Paddy Kielty proves he is still the king of Irish comedy
Paddy Kielty proves he is still the king of Irish comedy

A three-strong line-up of local comedians was on safe ground at the Feile.

Through experience or assumption – significantly more of the latter, you suspect – Paddy McDonnell, a west Belfast native, and Micky Bartlett, a country boy from Lurgan, knew their audience and stuck almost exclusively to material centred on those universally popular topics of Northern Irish comedy – ussuns and themmuns.

Their sets ran back to back, it was an interesting contrast of styles.

Bartlett was the more confident, skilled comedian with a cheeky, cocky – and noticeably inebriated – persona (sample quote: "F*** me, I'm funny!") that got the Feile Marquee crowd onside fast.

McDonnell's character was more local boy made good, saying hi to his parents in the crowd and asking if anyone's been in his taxi.

"Aye, double fare Paddy!" shouted one wag, and McDonnell made the most of the opportunity by using him as a segue into a very funny depiction of Ballymurphy as the snob capital of west Belfast: "The only place they put their conservatories on the front of their houses", so the neighbours can see.

A short skit about the drug 'meow meow' might have been topical three years ago, but more successful was an excellent riff on the loved-up properties of ecstasy which saw 1990s versions of Adams and Paisley settle their differences in an alternative reality 'E process'.

The local references were well tailored and it was mostly good natured fun.

Likewise, an extended study in casual racism had the kernel of a good idea, but it was clumsily delivered, too reliant on cheap laughs.

No such problem with our headliner.

Now resident in Los Angeles, Patrick Kielty's current show is entitled Home, and it's a tour de force of Northern Irish humour from a man who made his name on it.

No target was passed up, from unfortunate Titanic tie-ins ("what next, the Hunger Strikers cafe?") to the Queen's visit, clerical abuse to reassuringly morose comportment of the Northern Ireland people, and he was fearless with the west Belfast audience, poking fun at his crowd rather than trying to get them onside.

As we've seen, material based on this place's foibles is no guarantee of success, but with imagination, charm and no little bravery, it can still hit the spot.

CHRIS JONES

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