Passion, Pints and Potatoes - An Irish Guide to Life

At the start of this amateurish pub stand-up set, we are told the reasoning behind its name. Unbelievably, this pair is Irish. Therefore, we are told, they live up to stereotypes: they talk about sex, they talk about alcohol and they talk about potatoes. It’s a head-scratching start to the show and is actually a false description of the gig’s content: we mainly hear about relationships and sex. None of it is really offensive, it’s just poor branding. Worse still, it’s all such well-trodden ground that the jokes need to be golden to succeed. They aren’t.

The first half wa performed by a visibly nervous Christiane O’Mahony, who seemed to have less faith in her own material than the audience did. In this showing, it was actually a reply from an audience member in the front row that got the biggest laugh of her half-hour. O’Mahony rattles through tales of her strict upbringing and her sex life almost without pause for breath. There’s potential for laughs here, from her all-girl convent-school uniform (Gandalf robes) to her concept of hybridising pornography and fairy tales (in order to standardise men and women’s expectations of sex). O’Mahony is charming, but the comedy here is either too boring or too rushed to flourish. There’s a small segment where she shows off her harp skills but, due to its brevity, this feels gimmicky rather than adding any comedy. At one point she even scrapped an anecdote after a moment of audience interaction disrupted her train of thought. Ultimately, too many embarrassingly unanswered questions addressed to the audience in the style of ‘Cheer if you’ve...’ left her set hanging on by the skin of its teeth.

Next up is Steve Bennett, a charismatic, guitar-wielding funnyman who benefitted from the defrosted crowd. His ‘Awkward Song’ is a clever tactic: the audience hear about situations slightly worse than the one they’re currently in. He drifts in and out of the song with ease and the audience enjoyed laughing along. It’s just a shame that the comedy’s so basic: oh no, he’s forgotten the name of a one-night stand! He’s used the word ‘gay’ in front of a gay person! He’s got a friend who has suddenly piled on the pounds! How embarrassing. ‘I hope none of you have had similar experiences,’ he says. Luckily the audience is made up entirely of grown-ups. Phew!

Nevertheless, the material in this half definitely feels stronger, probably due to his self-assured delivery. He describes a visit to a girlfriend’s family, with whom he went to an evangelical religious service. His excellent replication of the church’s creepy singing is the high point of the show, but further on the subject matter becomes pedestrian once more, with songs about a whimsical girlfriend (some sexism) and his father’s explanation of sex (some more sexism). A large inflatable penis which he asked one audience-member to blow up ten minutes before the end of the show remained semi-erect and unused due to a lack of time. It was apt.

This gig isn’t really about Irish identity, or drinking, or potatoes. Some potato-based comedy might actually be original; this show about sex and relationships simply rehashes dull observational comedy tropes. Men leave the toilet seat up. Women have breasts. Contraception exists. The duo have potential: with a later slot and a more receptive crowd the pair might feel more comfortable. Enjoying their limper jokes certainly seems to require a pint or two.

Reviews by Larry Bartleet

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The Blurb

Two Irish country bumpkins from the land of priests and potatoes talk life, love and everything between. Jokes while standing, sung words and fun moments.