Review: Ardal O'Hanlon & Guests, Bloomsbury Theatre

Ardal O'Hanlon

Sometimes fate steps in to make a story more topical after it has been published. That is the case with this Ardal O'Hanlon review which appeared in the Evening Standard last week. You can read the full original review here. Shortly after the Pope resigned some wag nipped onto O'Hanlon's Wikipedia page and changed his CV so that it says that his latest project, following appearances on Skins and Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow, is The Pope. It may be corrected soon, but the prank can currently be seen here. At least I assume it is a prank. Someone else also suggested the other day that O'Hanlon's work as Father Dougal on Father Ted makes him eminently well-qualified to be the new Pontiff. Maybe he's worth a punt if the odds are long.

O'Hanlon seems unable to shake off that great gormless creation, but at least he gets some good comic material out of it. He jokes onstage with a knowing smile that the paranoia about paedophiles in the church means that it is not even easy to be a fictional priest these days. O'Hanlon, of course, is much sharper and well-informed than Dougal. No doubt if the Pope had resigned before this gig – a fundraiser for the Aisling Project charity which O'Hanlon is a patron of – he would have had some punchy material on the story. Interestingly the audience at this gig was more noticeably Irish than at your average benefit show. If the election for Pope was a public one I suspect a lot of people here would be more than happy to vote for O'Hanlon, if not for Dougal.

Ardal O'Hanlon is on tour this autumn. For dates and tickets see here.

Young Ardal O’Hanlon was always different to the other schoolboys. He wanted to be a footballer while everyone else wanted to be a pilot: “Most of them lived in bungalows, they’d never even been upstairs.” Almost two decades after his breakthrough as Father Ted’s dimwit Dougal, O’Hanlon’s stand-up is as original and offbeat as ever.

This show was a fundraiser for The Aisling Project, which helps Irish exiles in London return home. O’Hanlon, was only on compering duties and while his name clearly shifted tickets others helped to make the night swing. Stalwart John Moloney did particularly well in front of a mainly Irish audience by mixing jokes and traditional accordion music.

Elsewhere Brendan Dempsey was good on changing styles of parenting — “in my day children were conceived and not heard.” Newcomer Yasmine Akram had terrific confidence and just needs the material to go with it. Sara Pascoe mostly bemused the crowd with riffs on subjects ranging from arachnophobia to anorexia.

Headliner Milton Jones rocked the room with oddball gems about working as a bouncer in a Spacehopper shop and hitting the snooze button on his smoke alarm. But it was O’Hanlon who got the biggest laughs, explaining that there was no point buying garden furniture in rainy Ireland. “Unless it comes with an anchor I don’t see the point.”

His smart punchlines were only rivalled by his smooth handling of the post-interval raffle. Never has my old lecture theatre felt so much like a Wicklow village hall.

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