Review Date: February 26 2020
Performance: February 26 2020
Location: Epstein Theatre, Liverpool
Duration: 150 Mins incl. An Interval
Ardal O’Hanlon, who to me is one of the unsung heroes of Irish comedy, brought his highly entertaining stand-up show back to Liverpool last night, with the Epstein Theatre hosting his current tour The Showing Off Must Go On.
Before Ardal took to the stage, we had a warm-up act in the form of Brodi Snook. Brodi hails from Western Australia but has lived in the UK for the past ten years. She told us about her experiences with family and relationships, in particular discussing potential modifications to dating apps that would make it more likely to realise what potential lovebirds are getting themselves into. The crowd could have been more supportive at this stage (well, besides the guy sat behind me, who laughed with an extension of his final giggle syllable at virtually everything that was mentioned, including the staff PA announcement of the bar being open; okay I made that last bit up), but I thought Brodi did a good job and was a nice contrast from the main event. Ardal himself has previously described her as “a future star”, and I would agree based on this showing.
When Ardal did arrive, he came on to huge cheers and applause, which he was very appreciative of. Addressing the elephant in the room – that being the fact that many see him not as Ardal O’Hanlon, but as Father Dougal McGuire from Father Ted, which incidentally is my favourite comedy show of all-time, with his character being central to my perspective), he explained that he was in fact a clever man as opposed to a stupid idiot, though he did tell a hilarious story about an experience he had with a taxi driver in his hometown of Dublin recently to suggest that while he isn’t lacking in intelligence, he may be forgetful from time to time.
Ardal shared with us some of his opinions on life and the ever-changing world in which we live in (no I’m not going to sing Live And Let Die after writing it despite the temptation), noting some of the obvious cultural mindset shifts, both in Ireland and the UK, as well as some of the more unusual changes that people and businesses have taken it upon themselves to implement. His example of the unnecessary altering shapes of plates and cups had me laughing out loud, partly because I can definitely envision such a scenario happening in a restaurant, usually in the last place that you’d expect as well. His views on the Brexit situation were kept brief, simply to note that he would personally miss the UK being in the European Union, though it came after he discussed the element of sarcasm and being effective at expressing one opinion while really meaning another, which made this seemingly-innocuous statement very amusing, not least because he retains the spot-on facial mannerisms that first gained him such a cult following.
McGuire also detailed family life, in particular his relationship with his wife Melanie and his three children, who are starting to reach the age where he is having to have some awkward conversations, which he explained in a typically-comical fashion. Other topics that he covered included a somewhat challenging radio interview during a visit to the United States that he had last year, a daft yet totally relatable situation pertaining to him getting off a train and walking home at 1am, and also the idea that we apologise far too often, usually at moments when saying “sorry” is totally unwarranted, and even at moments when we ourselves are being treated wrongly in some way. This ties in with the name of the evening being The Showing Off Must Go On, whereby we feel that telling people about our success – no matter how small – is deemed to be a bad thing (this included a hilarious discussion of the dining room chairs for him and his family back when he was younger).
I have to admit that I am a huge fan of Ardal O’Hanlon, but this was my very first time seeing him live. He lived up to my expectations and then some, because he has a friendly and down-to-earth style that means he can expand upon just about anything and make it a humorous discussion point. He definitely isn’t the outspoken bloke at the bar who can solve all the world’s problems with over a few drinks and a few laughs, but rather he is the gentle guy who is sitting near the back of the pub, who will speak to anybody who is polite and courteous, but who is so funny that he’ll have you in stitches and he’ll seemingly not understand why. Certainly, the Liverpool audience lapped his performance up from start to finish, with his encore leading to further giggles. In fact, even after his bonus material, I wanted to hear more, which is the sure sign that a stand-up comedian has done his job well.
I’m biased, I admit, but I thoroughly enjoyed Ardal O’Hanlon live in person, and would absolutely urge anybody to watch him do his thing when he comes to your local auditorium. He will likely return to Liverpool in the future, and when he does, I’ll make sure to be there to see him again.
Target Audience: Adults Aged 18+
Content: Some Strong Language, Mild Sex References
Overall Rating: 10/10 – Perfect