Des Penny: The Comedy in Irish

a stack of 3 wristbands with the message Kiss Me I'm Irish Those of us who originate from the emerald isle can be a funny bunch. Not just funny looking but a comical wit and twisted view of the world seems to be innate in us all. Ireland has been responsible for some great comics like Tommy Tiernan, Dylan Moran and the late Spike Milligan. Some may try and dispute Mr. Milligans nationality since he was born in India to an Irish father and English mother. However, he held Irish citizenship, was renowned for his outlandish remarks and has “I told you I was ill” written in Gaelic on his headstone. He’s most definitely Irish.

Making outlandish remarks or inappropriate comments are something us paddys can all relate to. We just can’t help but say something funny if the opportunity arises. Even if we were being robbed by a gang of ninjas, we’d still think of something to say that compared them to Muslim women in burqas.

As a starting out stand-up comedian in Sydney, performing in front of a mainly Aussie crowd was particularly daunting. The thoughts of nobody in the audience understanding my accent ran through my mind. I wasn’t worried about my material as I’m freaking hilarious. Did I mention we are also renowned for our modesty? I knew I’d have to slow down the pace of my speech in order to be comprehensible but not too much where I’d end up looking like someone with special needs.

After a while other comedians told me that it doesn’t really matter what I say because my accent is so funny. Maybe I should give up this writing jokes malarkey and just get up on stage and simply ask for directions or reminisce about my childhood or something. For some reason people here in Australia think our accent is cute and cheerful. As if we seem to be constantly singing rather than talking. If that’s the case, then I think an Irish person should be hired to give bad news. There might be less of a sting to things like ‘I’m sorry but you have cancer and there’s nothing we can do’ or ‘This is your captain, can all passengers brace themselves for an emergency landing’ if said with our accent.

However, the way speak has gone against me in the past. One of my very first times performing I opened up with the following joke:

“Statistically, every human being on the planet is a mere six feet away from a rat at all times. Statistically, every human being on the planet is a mere three feet away……from an Irish person.”

Unfortunately, during the pregnant pause one woman in the audience billowed out with laughter shouting “TREE! Ha ha ha TREE!”

She managed to ruin my bit and also get one of the biggest laughs of the night at my expense.

OK, it’s true. We do seem to have some difficulty in pronouncing certain words like the number three, thirty and many other ‘tings’ that begin with a ‘TH’. However, with our humour, wit and often cheeky charm, we possess the building blocks needed to make people laugh.

If you don’t believe me and want to witness great Irish comical entertainment first hand, then buy a ticket for Tommy Tiernan in April. If you can’t wait that long and want to witness a night of bad pronunciation then come see myself along with a mainly Irish lineup at the laugh garage (CBD) this St. Patricks Day March 17th. Headlining will be the funny, the popular, Caveman of Comedy, Mr. Dave Callan.

Editor’s Note: Irish-American comedian Des Bishop is also currently touring Australia – interview coming soon!

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