The Week Ahead: Nov 17 - 23


For a small island the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland punch well above their combined weight when it comes to stand-up comedy and two fine exponents come to London this week.

First up there is Ardal O'Hanlon, who is at the Richmond Theatre on Thursday as part of his current UK tour. I've written elsewhere about the fact that the 48-year-old son of politician Rory O'Hanlon is still best known as lovable dimwit Father Dougal. I think it's about time that he was recognised as a terrific comedian, which is how he started out before he ended up on Craggy Island.

O'Hanlon helped to kick-start the Dublin comedy scene as a co-founder of the famous Comedy Cellar. He is not as surreal at Dylan Moran, as raging as Tommy Tiernan or as pop culturally aware as Sean Hughes, but he remains a safe pair of smart hands in the best sense, currently entertaining crowds with amiable, exquisitely delivered offbeat tales about his childhood and some thoughts about the state of the Irish economy. 

On Saturday Jimeoin (who was actually born in Leamington Spa before growing up in Portstewart, Northern Ireland) plays what must surely be his biggest solo London show yet at the Hammersmith Apollo, but he has appeared on that stage already, guesting on BBC1's Live at the Apollo. The quirky comedian first made it big in Australia when he tried his luck over there and he is now finally making much deserved inroads in the Northern Hemisphere.

It is great to see Jimeoin break through and not surprising at all. He is a master of observational comedy, but goes a lot further than mere have-you-noticed? gags. His effortlessly slow-burn, lo-fi brand of performance majors in forensic details, such as discussing where we look when we are thinking about things that have happened in the past. It is all done with immaculate, original style  – Jimeoin's super-expressive eyebrows deserve a spin-off career in their own right. In fact they deserve a spin-off each. 

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