The Best of Irish Comedy

The bold claim made for itself by The Best of Irish Comedy immediately sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Having a look through the show’s previous guests, perhaps not: Dara O’Briain, Ed Byrne, Colin Murphy and Dylan Moran have all graced the show’s stage since its inception in 1999, names that would feature in anyone’s top-of-mind list of Irish comedians. Quite rightly, then, the show, which showcases three different acts nightly, has got a bit of a name for itself, and easily packed out its 100-odd seater venue (albeit on a Saturday night).

Some greater variety in the comic’s material would have allowed references to Marsden’s sexual exploits to earn their place.

The show’s compère Michael Legge got the ball rolling nicely. The Northern Irish comedian fed off the crowd’s energy to swell the stage with raucous applause for the first act. And of the three, Andrew Ryan was by far the strongest. His accent, incidentally, was also the thickest. Though perhaps not so incidental: Ryan gave us exactly what we wanted, the paragon of a Mary-mother-of-God-cursing, Mammy-loving Irishman. A stereotype, but one that was swallowed hook line and sinker.

Next on the line-up with Ricky Marsden, who gave off just a tad too much self-loathing to be sympathetic, and whose material didn’t stray far from sex. Though his risque humour was at first refreshingly frank, Marsden’s repeated return to sexual innuendo (more often explicitness) began to feel slightly unpleasant. Some greater variety in the comic’s material would have allowed references to Marsden’s sexual exploits to earn their place. As it was, he seemed a bit of a one-trick pony.

The final act, whose name I didn’t catch due to the compère’s attempts to speak over an applauding audience, failed to impress. Despite seeming the most experienced of the three, the comic relied on boyish humour (in fact, he repeatedly and incongruously referred to himself as a ‘boy’, which threw me somewhat). Often this descended to plain bigotry, first disabled prejudice (in his references to Oscar Pistorius being able to ride a bike), then misogyny (he joked about how he’d ‘never trusted women’ since a seven-year-old stole his Dolly Mixture). It seems unfair to shoot a comic down over prejudice for something they’ve joked about; after all, they might well claim that the joke was directed at, rather than borne out of prejudicial beliefs. However, as the final act himself said of joking about Paralympians: ‘Maybe you can, maybe you can’t’. In this case, it would have been best for him to err on the side of caution.

Reviews by Rivkah Brown

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An Evening with Dementia

Banshee Labyrinth

Rebranding Beelzebub

The Assembly Rooms

Owen O’Neill: Red Noise

Pleasance Courtyard

Pierre Novellie is Mighty Peter

Underbelly, Cowgate

Mush and Me




The Blurb

Ireland's finest under one roof. Excellent value Celtic showcase featuring three top comics for the price of one. Fringe institution since 1999. Now being held in the slightly bigger Stand Three because we just couldn't contain that much hilarity in Stand One! Previous guests include: Jason Byrne, Dara O'Briain, Dylan Moran, David O'Doherty, Andrew Maxwell, Colin Murphy, Ed Byrne, Neil Delamere, Maeve Higgins, Michael Redmond, Eleanor Tiernan, Jarlath Reagan, Deirdre O'Kane, Jake O'Kane, Ian Coppinger and Owen O'Neill. 'Wonderful line-up truly justifies show's title' (Evening News). Great craic - different line-up nightly.