Belfast Telegraph

Comic and cartoonist a big draw

Belfast comic actor and writer Tim McGarry is teaming up with Irish News political cartoonist and fellow Hearts And Minds contributor Ian Knox in his subversive take on 5,000 years of Irish history at the Waterfront Studio tonight and tomorrow.

“Ian is a genius,” said Tim. “I’m a big admirer of his work and have several original cartoons of his around the house.”

Although Knox’s mischievous title sequence begins the Hearts And Minds programme and McGarry ends it with his musings of a Belfast cabbie, the two rarely meet, except at the programme’s annual Christmas bash.

“I’m really delighted that he’s agreed to do this,” said Tim.

“He’s produced some brilliant graphics, which we’re using as big backdrops, the kind of thing you’d see in a classroom. The show is called Tim McGarry’s Irish History Lesson and it’s done very much in that format.”

In the course of the evening McGarry — who has sold out both nights — will have a pop at sacred subjects such as St Patrick and Cromwell, as well as puncturing the pomposity of political party websites.

“Although everyone says that at this point in our history we should look forward, we really do enjoy looking back,” he said.

“I’m a bit of a political nerd and I spend hours browsing the party websites, some of which are totally obsessed with the past. We’re forever giving out about having to hear how England won the World Cup in 1966, while at the same time never tiring of banging on about events that happened here hundreds of years ago.”

History and politics is clearly a theme of the week at the festival. They could have put Noam Chomsky into the main house of the Waterfront Hall and he could probably still have sold it out in double-quick time.

He is, without doubt, one of today’s most widely read voices on foreign policy — particularly US foreign policy, of which he is a fierce critic — and the Belfast Festival is the richer for his presence as the guest speaker of the Amnesty International Annual Lecture tomorrow, when his encouraging theme will be Hope And Prospects.

Another internationally renowned figure, artist Sean Scully, often hailed as the world’s greatest living abstract painter, has a retrospective at the magnificent refurbished Ulster Museum from now until February.

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