ANNE GILDEA

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - TV WEEK - Anne.gildea@mailon­sun­day.ie

Mr Trel­lis. Any­way, Mr Iz­zard, in our con­ver­sa­tion, was re­fer­ring to the im­pres­sive tal­ent he saw in the Cel­lar shortly af­ter the club’s in­cep­tion in 1988. He pre­dicted, he told me, that the Ir­ish would ‘cut a swath’ through the English club com­edy scene (which was then bur­geon­ing, but un­der- rep­re­sented by tal­ent from th­ese shores). ‘And so it has come to pass,’ he noted.

He was also re­fer­ring to his pos­i­tive im­pres­sion of the newer Ir­ish comics he en­coun­tered on the night. More than 50 comics per­formed dur­ing the four-hour show. As I’ve in­ti­mated, I hardly care to men­tion that only about seven, in­clud­ing

Ed­die Iz­zard’s done shows in French; how about Ir­ish? ‘If the Ir­ish

can’t be both­ered with Ir­ish, why should

I?’ he quipped

us three Nualas, were women. Back­stage, the sight of the solid mass of male­ness — men jam­ming the stairs lead­ing to the stage, clog­ging the nar­row cor­ri­dor be­tween dress­ing rooms, squashed to­gether in the stuffed green­room — was a won­der of testos­terone-ness. I just felt priv­i­leged to be there, amongst old, old, too-oldto-care-to-men­tion com­edy chums.

That’s an­other old ch­est­nut one might add to the bag of nuts that is com­edy: when are you ‘too old to still be do­ing this’? It was one of the youngest comics who set­tled that for me and re­minded me of the child­hood de­sire that led to my be­ing there: it was never the ‘com­edy’ biz I wanted to be in, but the busi­ness they call ‘SHOW’! And in the great tra­di­tion of the roar of the grease­paint and smell of the crowd, you keep on hoof­ing till you pop your glit­tery geri­atric clogs.

That co­me­dian’s name is Al Porter — a stage name, dar­ling (real name Alan Ka­vanagh). He’s like the love child of Noël Coward, Frankie How­erd and Judy Gar­land (they had a three­some, it was a bi­o­log­i­cal mir­a­cle — just go with this, okay?). In real life, he’s a 20-year-old chap from Tal­laght. He adores, as I do, the tra­di­tions of The Biz and be­moans the pass­ing of the old eti­quette: ‘Ev­ery­one was Mr or Miss un­til they told you oth­er­wise — “Hello, Mr Grayson.” “Please, call me Larry” — so you had the so­cial cue that you were be­ing “let in”.’

‘Ah, I see, Mr Porter,’ I said. ‘Please, you can call me Al or Betty,’ he replied. OMG, I think I’ve got a new com­edy best friend. Any­way, Al lives his phi­los­o­phy: his look a royal-blue sharp suit and pris­tine silk tie; his talk, ‘I don’t say “re­views”; I say “no­tices”. I don’t call them “gigs”; I say “en­gage­ments”’; his sense of be­ing part of a con­ti­nu­ity of camp per­form­ers. I loved chat­ting to him and hope the world will be his oys­ter.

Fi­nally, back to the lovely Mr Iz­zard. He was ex­plain­ing that, hav­ing done shows in French in France, he’s pre­par­ing to per­form in Ger­man in Ger­many, with the new goal of gig­ging in Rus­sian on the hori­zon. ‘Would you con­sider do­ing a show in Ir­ish?’ some­one asked. ‘If the Ir­ish can’t be both­ered do­ing Ir­ish, why should I?’ he quipped back.

Thank you, Mr Mur­phy, and Mr Berry of Vicar Street/Aiken Pro­mo­tions, for a stel­lar evening, and Messrs Mur­phy, Gildea, O’Han­lon, Car­mody and Lyons for cre­at­ing a lit­tle club, a quar­ter cen­tury ago, that grew a mas­sive laugh­ter in­dus­try.

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