Ireland has long been a hotbed of comedic talent, from Oscar Wilde quipping 'I have nothing to declare but my genius' to current BBC sitcom Mrs Brown's Boys. Over the years we've delighted in some of the most hilarious stand up and sitcom exports from the Emerald Isle - too many to mention here. Instead, in honour of St Patrick's Day, BBC Comedy Online have put together this collection of some of the best loved Irish performers for you to enjoy.
Dave Allen was in many ways the godfather of modern Irish comedy, and certainly its elder statesman. After an appearance on BBC's New Faces in 1959 he starred in The Dave Allen Show on the BBC in 1969 and then Dave Allen At Large, later coming out of semi-retirement for The Unique Dave Allen in 1998. Whether performing on a chair with a cigarette in hand or in a comic sketch (and we've a clip of both for your viewing pleasure) the controversial comedian had no truck with hypocrisy in its many forms and despite being a committed atheist always signed off with "Goodnight, thank you, and may your God go with you".
Ardal O'Hanlon is probably best known for his roles in Father Ted and BBC One sitcom My Hero, but began his comedic career as a stand-up, winning the Hackney Empire New Act of the Year in 1994. He starred as George Sunday AKA Thermoman, a world famous superhero from the planet Ultron in My Hero for five series from 2000 to 2005 and followed this with Ben Elton's Blessed for BBC One. In this clip we see Ardal in stand-up guise discussing the affair he's having (with his wife).
After years as a stand-up, television and radio comic in Ireland the late Dermot Morgan found fame in the UK playing a calamitous priest in the sitcom Father Ted in 1995. His stand up routines were often mischievous and controversial and his first character of religious bearing was a certain Father Trendy, who took potshots at the clergy and politicians. Whilst working on popular Irish television show The Live Mike, Dermot released a book 'Trendy Sermons' in the guise of Father Trendy, which saw him dropped from every radio and television show in Ireland for blasphemy. Dermot went on to release a comedy single about boxer Barry McGuigan's manager before moving to radio to write, direct and star in the satirical sitcom Scrap Saturday for which he won a Jacob's Radio Award in 1991. The show was soon scrapped due to Dermot attacking Irish politicians but it wasn't long before Father Ted appeared in our screens for the first time. We've a very special clip of Dermot as a ranting Irish Catholic, filmed in 1982 in a Dublin pub on the eve of St Patrick's Day, pillorying the BBC for their 'filthy programmes' on Russell Harty.
Television often uses stand ups in its panel games for extra comic effect and Dara Ó Briain has risen to prominence as host of Mock The Week and The Apprentice: You're Fired, whilst being regarded as one of the finest stand-ups around. Despite studying Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at University first job was as a children's television presenter before trying his hand at stand-up comedy. Appearances on BBC shows including Never Mind The Buzzcocks followed along with a Chortle Best Headline Act award before he featured in and eventually hosted the aforementioned shows. Oh, and he's completed three stand-up tours and appeared on Live at the Apollo from which this clip is taken.
As if Dara wasn't already popular enough he was also best man at Ed Byrne's wedding (who kindly returned the favour). Ed Byrne meanwhile has carved out quite a stand-up career for himself since being nominated for a Perrier Comedy Award in 1998. Alongside the stand-up Ed has a appeared on a raft of comedy panel shows including Mock The Week, The Graham Norton Show and Three Men Go To Scotland with Dara, Rory McGrath and Griff Rhys Jones.
Speaking of The Graham Norton Show, here we see Graham discussing Rod Stewart and (ahem) Jedward on his show. Another member of the Father Ted brigade, playing hyperactive priest Father Noel Furlong in three episodes of the show, Graham made his comedy start at the Edinburgh Festival as a tea - towel clad Mother Teresa drag act before taking up a regular spot on BBC Radio 4 show Loose Ends. He then hosted BBC's Strictly Dance Fever in 2005 along with Graham Norton's Bigger Picture. The ubiquitous comedian also hosts the Eurovision Song Contest and Andrew Lloyd Webber's various musical theatre talent searches, including Any Dream Will Do, I'd Do Anything and Over The Rainbow along with a Saturday morning BBC Radio 2 show. Seriously, where does he get the time?
After winning the So You Think You're Funny award at the 1993 Edinburgh Festival, Dylan Moran went one further and won the Perrier Comedy Award three years later. His first major television role came in BBC2's How Do You Want Me? In 1998 and roles in the movies Notting Hill and Shaun of the Dead soon followed. But it's for his stand-up that Dylan is best known, winning plaudits for his shows, which he has toured across the world. In this clip Dylan discusses the difference between men's and women's...um...adult literature.
Often controversial but always very funny, Tommy Tiernan once set the world record for the longest ever stand up show of 36 hours and 15 minutes. He was also the recipient of the 1998 Perrier Comedy Award at the Edinburgh Festival and another comedian to appear in Father Ted, playing the suicidal Father Kevin in one episode in 1998. Here, Tommy acts out an argument between a priest and a young boy during a fire drill. Watch it, it'll make sense we promise.
Although not born in Ireland, Spike Milligan became an Irish national in the 1960s (and to be honest, who wouldn't want his wonderfully surreal brand of humour?) after being declared 'stateless' by the British government. Spike is probably best known as a member of the Goons alongside Harry Secombe, Michael Bentine and Peter Sellars, and his penchant for hilarious gibberish was common thread throughout his career. Alongside his performances he wrote a number of books and plays, and one of his most poignantly funny lines 'I told you I was ill', which he had quipped he wanted on his headstone was added fittingly in Irish Gaelic. That's what we call getting the last laugh.
Dubliner Jason Byrne's stand-up shows demonstrate the art of shouting and swearing to hugely comical effect. An Edinburgh Festival regular and Perrier Award nominee has toured the world with his shows and received the Chortle Award for best headliner in 2007. How he doesn't keel over whilst in the middle of a rant we'll never know - check out this clip of Jason in full flow.
Neil Delamere's stand-up career began in 2004 at the Edinburgh Festival and progressed to BBC Radio and television with appearances on Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow, The Blame Game and One Night Stand. He is fast becoming as well known here as he is in Ireland, where he started by doing five minutes in a bar in Dublin. However, If you ask Neil how he became a comedian you might be told as somewhat different tale. "I'm going to tell them that me, Richard Pryor and Johnny Weissmuller, who played Tarzan in all the old movies, got together and wrote a short one-man play for me. Richard Pryor was all about being black, and he was kind of dumped because that role didn't suit me and Johnny Weissmuller basically got called to go win a gold medal at the Olympics. So I had to dump the two writers and I went off and started my whole career in a small nightclub in 1930s Berlin."
It seems Sean Hughes has been around since time immemorial. After winning a Perrier Award in 1990 Sean has gone on to add many further strings to his bow with movie appearances and stints on various BBC shows, including team captaincy on Never Mind The Buzzcocks and voice work on children's show Rubbadubbers. He's also written collections of poetry, two novels and even hosted a show on BBC 6 Music. But it is for his stand-up shows that he's best remembered so here's a clip of Sean strutting his comic stuff.
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