Ardal OHanlon Live at Symphony Hall Review


Ardal O’Hanlon Live
Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Reviewed by Jane Hopkins MBE

You know you’ve enjoyed a night out when you’re still talking about it days afterwards. This was most definitely the case after spending a Saturday evening in the superb company of Father McDougal, sorry I mean Ardal O’Hanlon, live at The Birmingham Symphony Hall.

Being familiar with Father Ted, it’s hard to see him as himself rather than the character he played but the trip he took the audience on was an almost surreal trip down memory lane. He told hilarious stories of his family, his life, his background, his pets… we left, on a high, feeling we now know him so well.

Often, stand up comedians focus on causing offence, swearing and generally being cheeky to the point of “oh no he can’t say that!” but Ardal O’Hanlon, and yes he does all that, but, armed with his placid unassuming Irish accent, he does it in such a gentle and almost daft manner that even though he is being utterly cheeky, you can’t help find it hilarious in a should-I-really-be-laughing-at-this? Kind of way. I can’t even bring myself to say he was being offensive, even though he really was.

The journey took us from his childhood, following his dream of moving out of a small town, wanting to be a footballer and falling into comedy, and trying to live the dream. He told us of his height of success with Father Ted, and the following years of stand up and even turning down a role in Thomas the Tank engine where he was offered the part of ‘Patrick the cement mixer’, “no sign of racial stereotyping there” he joked. 

He displayed a clever way of finding humour in the smallest of observations; likening our Prime Minister and Deputy PM to ‘shampoo and conditioner’, the way people at a pelican crossing will push the button even though someone is standing there, in Ardal’s observation that it’s to take the credit when the lights change.

He was open and honest about his religious views, suggesting alternatives viewpoints about God, questioning his catholic background, leaving us laughing, and agreeing with him. He wonders through a range of matters from catholic guilt to stereotyping, touching on racial issues without once coming across as particularly offensive. He is honest about himself, saying he found himself apologising to a guy who mugged him once “I’m sorry I only have a fiver” he said to the mugger, “I’m sorry I had to do this, life has been tough”, replied the mugger “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that..” replied Ardan.

To me, he is the ultimate mischievous and likeable, anecdotal comedian, you cannot help find his mannerisms and observations hilariously true and you leave wanting more.

Rating: 5/5

Currrently on tour until 1 December. For tour dates or to book tickets click here.

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