The Fellas Live!: 13 June 2009 - Vic Theatre, Chicago
Words and Pictures by Kirstie Shanley
Featuring three of the best and brightest comedians and actors in Ireland, The Fellas Live! brought these minds together for a hilarious night of stand up. The trio’s individual themes were often similar, uniting the evening with a sense of cohesiveness as they explored ideas of religion, relationships, and the Irish in America. The delivery and personality of each comedian, however, differed greatly and made for a lively sense of variety.
Ardal O'Hanlon, who has starred in British sit-coms Father Ted and My Hero, opened up the evening. From his jokes about being a father and letting his children win at Connect 4 until they felt sorry for him and patronized him by letting him win to his remark about going to a restaurant to have an argument, one sensed the way he experiences daily life. He also talked more seriously as well, about the failing economy and religion, talking about a Sikh in Ireland who wanted to join the police force. Global warming, flu epidemics, and fear in general were other featured topics as O’Hanlon quipped wittily: “What’s next? We’re going to hear the Vikings have reformed!”
Of course, some of his jokes about Ireland were classics. He jested that the Irish were comprised of 90% rain and 10% resentment, for example, and how their chief contribution to the world was freckles. Perhaps his best line of the night, however, was an unrelated remark about cigarettes and the smoking ban, “I’m not a smoker myself,” he revealed, “but I’ve always loved coughing.”
Anyone even remotely familiar with the brilliant British television comedy, Black Books would undoubtedly appreciate Dylan Moran’s stand up routine. Similar to his sit-com character Bernard Black (complete with his full wine glass), Moran came across as a jaded intellectual misanthrope. Though Moran’s projects have also included films, most notably Shaun of the Dead and Run Fat Boy Run, his stand up personality comes closer to Bernard Black than any other character he has played.
While one can easily picture Ardal O’Hanlon and Tommy Tiernan preparing with practice and notes, Dylan Moran appears to do just the opposite. His routine seemed effortless and completely off the cuff, as if he had written down maybe four general topics and rambled the rest of his way through it. In other words, he’s a natural talent and his sense of unpredictability heightened the hilarity of his wit.
Rampaging against machines, particularly cameras, was his first target. As if adeptly commanding a derailing train, he ventured headlong into human dependence on these electronics then somehow segued into how we flock to religion and politics. Finally, he delved into the human need for relationships. While talking about people believing in each other, he suggested everyone comes to a decision in their lives when he/she must decide: “Sane or not lonely?”
Not surprisingly, Moran had some funny remarks about relationships in particular. He described a shopping incident where a man accompanies a woman who is looking for curtains and all the details she looks for in the many varieties while the man thinks, “I didn’t even know we had windows.” He also spoke about women being more aware of babies from an early age in a way men aren’t, adding color with an absurdist description of a woman who says how lovely a tree is and how you could put a baby up there. Perhaps his funniest and most bitter moment came when speaking about how men are afraid of women partly because of biology, but also because women have memories.
Finishing off the evening, Tommy Tiernan appeared with a more physical routine and an apt sense of gesture and movement. Without the confines of a center standard microphone setup, he was free to move around and imitate everything from dinosaurs to chickens in his critical wonder of evolution and the creator of such preposterous things. Though Tiernan has appeared on radio and television, his main achievements seem more connected to stand up comedy and it was easy to tell that this is definitely his forte.
Right away, Tiernan remarked about how he enjoyed Chicago as a “crooked city for crooked people” and how he found the American flag at Macy’s amusing as if people would forget what country they were in while shopping there. His most common topics, however, were aging and foreplay, and the differences in his perceptions of how to get it right as time has gone on. This made for a routine that may have been just as awkward as it was humorous for some audience members.