Comedian Pat Shortt to show another side to his talents

Pat Shortt in A Skull in Connemara. “The problem with being a comedian is that you tend to get stereotyped, as if comedy is unrelated to acting,
Pat Shortt in A Skull in Connemara. “The problem with being a comedian is that you tend to get stereotyped, as if comedy is unrelated to acting," he says. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Lifestyle – Comedian Pat Shortt will show another side to his talents when he takes the lead role as a gravedigger in Martin McDonagh’s play A Skull in Connemara in Galway this Summer. Judy Murphy  reveals that he has more than one string to his bow.

“You’ve something to learn from everybody,” says comedian and actor Pat Shortt. And the former member of the iconic duo, D’Unbelievables, is embarking on a new learning experience in June when he makes his debut with Galway’s Decadent Theatre Company in Martin McDonagh’s play A Skull in Connemara.

Pat is taking the lead role as gravedigger, Mick Dowd in the black comedy which will run at the City’s Town Hall Theatre from June 21-30 with matinees from June 21-23.

Since dropping out of art college in Limerick to become one half of this country’s most successful comedy acts, Pat has gone on to become a highly-regarded stage and screen actor. And, always willing to push himself in new directions, there was also a period as the Saw Doctors’ one-man brass section and a foray into the restaurant business.

He’s currently concluding a successful tour of his comedy show, How’s Tings?, before he hits Galway with his acting hat on. And while he may be new to Decadent Theatre and its director, Andrew Flynn, he’s very familiar with Martin McDonagh’s plays.

Nineteen years ago, Pat and Jon Kenny teamed up for a Druid production of The Lonesome West, directed by Garry Hynes, his first time performing as a stage actor. He was also a new father, so it was a stressful period, he recalls. Pat knew that Hynes had a reputation as a tough director, and while he’d worked in film, his experience on stage had been all with D’Unbelievables.  So, he was full of self-doubt about his ability.

“But we got on great and she never questioned me,” he says with satisfaction.  Martin McDonagh also approved and recommended Pat for the role of Johnnypatteenmike in a 2013 West End production of The Cripple of Inishmaan, directed by Michael Grandage, former Artistic Director of the Donmar Warehouse. The production, with Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, was a massive hit, receiving rave reviews in London and in Broadway where it subsequently transferred. It became the most nominated Tony show ever.

“I’ve heard people say that I’m cut out for Martin’s work and I love the daftness and silliness of it,” Pat says. It has similarities with his own writing style, he feels.

“I tend to go for Irish characters and enlarge them for comic reasons and I feel Martin does that. Then there’s the dialogue and the pattern and the rhythm and I love that, too.”

Pat also believes that the comedy work he and Jon did in D’Unbelievables was similar to acting in many ways, although he’s not sure that’s widely recognised.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.