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Pret-a-Porter is ready to go

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Comedian Al Porter plays Comedy Carnival Galway

by Olaf Tyaransen

Despite his relative youth, the inimitable Al Porter is most probably Ireland’s most suave, polished and sartorially conscious comedian. He looks as though he’s stepped directly out of a 1950’s time warp. You could practically examine your reflection in his heavily Bryllcreamed hair, and he’s rarely spotted out of an immaculately tailored three-piece suit.

On this occasion, however, the flamboyantly gay 22 year-old is also sporting a pair of muddied wellies. It’s the bleary-eyed Sunday morning of Electric Picnic and the Tallaght-born comic has just come offstage in the Leviathan tent, where he was co-hosting an event with Miriam O’Callaghan. During the show, he told both Miriam and the stuffed tent about his father’s reaction to his son’s homosexuality.

“My da said to all of his mates in the pub, ‘Jaysus, young Al is going around giving fella blow-jobs!” he confided to a rapt audience. “He told them, ‘I’ll tell yiz, lads, he didn’t get it from me….and he didn’t get it from his mother either!’”

Needless to say, the Leviathan event wasn’t being broadcast live.

“Shall we do the interview in my filthy caravan?” he asks afterwards. “It’ll be a lot quieter there.”

It transpires that said caravan is actually quite clean and tidy. Unashamedly flirtatious and direct, he obviously meant a different kind of ‘filthy’.

Needless to say, Porter – passport name Alan Kavanagh – isn’t shy. But when did he first come out…as a comedian?

“It was when I was 19!” he laughs. “I dropped out of college – English, Literature & Philosophy in Trinity. I was terrible.”

He proceeds to tell me in his mile-a-minute motor-mouth fashion just exactly how terrible he was. Sadly, there’s no space here to recount the tale of when he first slept with a priest (at a Papal convention in Rome), got stoned with a nun (who later stalked him), and various other youthful indiscretions besides.

“Trinity was awful,” he says. “I despised it. I did four months and was kicked out of lectures. I never used to bring books and they would get annoyed. I was listening and I remember one lecturer hating me; ‘You’re not listening because you’re not taking notes’, and I thought, ‘Bollocks to that’. So I started bringing my laptop and sitting much closer to him and he thought that it meant that I was suddenly engaging.”

Of course, this wasn’t the case. “I was actually opening up my word processor and I’d put the font really large and write running commentary on what he was doing so that everybody behind me could see it. He might be going, ‘And Parmenides would say that change truly exists…’, and I’d be writing, ‘Yeah, you should change your underwear, you dirty bollocks!’ and people were laughing. I was only 18 or 19.”

Having observed the local talent and figured he could do better, he did his first ever stand-up show in Captain America’s of Tallaght about three years ago. “I’d only ever seen [stand-up] comedy on the television; Michael McIntyre, Billy Connolly, Lee Evans – big fuckin’ huge theatre arena comics, so that’s what I thought comedy was. I went to this stand-up night by accident – I was going to be drinking anyway – and they had local comedians up.

“I didn’t know them then, I know them now. Guys called Simon O’Keefe and Willy White, a guy from Ballymun, doing jokes about Tallaght; girls getting pregnant, what it’s like to be a lad on the southside of Dublin. I was going, ‘Jesus’, because Michael McIntyre is talking about walking his kids in the park in London, or Billy Connolly is talking about the miners. I didn’t know there was comedy about my area so I said to the guy, ‘Can I do it?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, next week’.”

That gig went well enough for him to continue. “People were like, ‘Good man, fair fucking play to ya!’. A lot of guys from Tallaght who did drugs or sold drugs or were involved in gangs would drink with us, if not in that pub then some other pubs, and they were always supportive, going, ‘Fair play to you! I love what you’re doing!’.

So I didi my set, 20 minutes instead of five or 10, got off stage and got 20 euro. I would have paid them 100 euro to do it. It was the biggest rush of my life.”

Fast forward three years and Porter – now almost ubiquitous on Irish radio and TV – is one of the hottest names in contemporary Irish comedy. So much so that he recently signed to one of the UK’s biggest talent agencies. More than one knowing pundit has already declared him to be the ‘new Graham Norton’.

“I haven’t met Graham, but I have an association,” he laughs. “I’m one away! Pat Egan, the promoter who always brought over Billy Connolly and introduced me to him – he brought over Liza Minelli one time and Lee Evans in the early, early years – Pat knows Graham quite well.

On my Vicar Street show I received a bouquet of flowers, huge bouquet. I got loads of nice gifts, in fairness. Fiona Looney gave me a signed Frankie Howard picture, which was really nice. I knew her from writing pantos. Big bouquet of flowers came and I looked at it and thought,‘That’s mad…’ and there was a card saying, ‘Love, luck and laughter – Graham Norton, London’.”

He’s sadly aware that it could have been that incorrigible bastard Karl Spain – with whom he shared a house during the Edinburgh festival – who sent it. “Yeah, I wouldn’t put it past him,” he laughs. “I am also aware that that could be any arsehole, but it was still nice to get it. There remains the possibility that he heard about it because even when I was over in Edinburgh, some of the off-the-curve people were saying, ‘No, we’re pretty sure he’s heard about you’, because, y’know, we Google ourselves. People in stand-up Google ourselves, even Graham I would say, isn’t averse to the odd Google.

“I’d say he’s seen these hits; every review, ‘New Graham Norton’, ‘Graham Norton should watch out’… so he might be going, ‘Who’s the bloke? I’ll give him a nod’, or it could have been Karl Spain just sending me them for the craic.

“Or it could be a guy called Norton-London with a double-barrelled surname, but it was a nice gesture and I keep the card at home but my mam puts it out when guests come around. She just puts it in front of other shit and I go, ‘Mam, it looks like Graham Norton sent me a teapot!’. It’s not good!’”

Even if it was Karl Spain who sent the flowers, it’ll be forgiven. They’re currently working together on a Christmas panto.

“We’re doing a show called Freezin’, as opposed to Frozen, which we’re writing together. We’re writing lots of stupid jokes. ‘Reindeer?’ – ‘No, just cloudy’. All this kind of stuff. ‘Oh, it’s freezing out’ – ‘Well, then put it back in’. I like all that old Lily Savage-esque humour.”

With so much going on, where does Al Porter see himself in a year’s time?

“Well, I’m probably going to be away more in the UK than I am at the moment,” he says, after a pause. “In a year, I’m going to be more in the UK as there’s stuff lined up. Certainly, all the clubs, as many as I can do. I haven’t done that many. I really want to get into the Comedy Store, and that should be possible with the new agency.

There is, possibly, some television opportunities that I’m not supposed to talk about, but I will, more than likely, stay on radio in Ireland, but next year there won’t be a fortnight when I’m not in the UK.”

Al appears in the Spiegeltent, Eyre Square on Wed Oct 21st and Thurs Oct 22nd.

He performs his solo show, “Al Porter Is Yours” at Town Hall Theatre on Friday Oct 23rd with special guests Totally Wired.

CITY TRIBUNE

Fun and laughter promised in Harry Potter parody show

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Potted Potter is visiting Galway as part of an Irish tour.

The Olivier Award nominated Potted Potter, The Unauthorised Harry Experience – A Parody by Dan and Jeff, visits Galway’s Town Hall Theatre from this Thursday to Sunday, August 18-21. Having played to sold-out houses all over the world, it’s visiting Galway as part of an Irish tour.

The show takes on the challenge of condensing all seven Harry Potter books (and a real-life game of Quidditch) into 70 hilarious minutes.

Performed by Jan Martin and Paul Brown, Potted Potter contains all the central characters, a special appearance from a fire-breathing dragon, endless costumes, brilliant songs, ridiculous props and a generous helping of Hogwarts magic.

Created by double-Olivier Award Best Entertainment nominees Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner, Potted Potter has been seen by over a million muggles around the world since its 2006 premiere. It played 30 weeks off-Broadway across two sold-out seasons, as well as having five West End runs, and multiple North American and Australasian tours.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Talk and workshop to accompany Twofold

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Artists and sisters Susan Campbell and Paula Hickey whose new show opens in Kinvara this Friday evening.

Twofold, joint exhibition from artist sisters Susan Campbell and Paula Hickey will open this Friday evening at 6pm, at the Courthouse Gallery in Kinvara, hosted by KAVA arts. It will run until Sunday, August 28,  with a talk and a workshop next week to coincide with the show.

Susan and Paula describe Twofold as their response to the dynamic processes and equilibriums found in nature.

Using a range of mediums, it references water cycles, geological formations and flora, including those local to the Burren.

Susan who lives in Wicklow, has a Higher National Diploma fine art, and an MPhil and PhD art history, who is now integrating her creative and research interests. She is concerned with natural dynamics, the structures that underly reality and the relationships between things. Paula who is based in Leeds, and who has a BA in graphic design and MA in creative practice, is a regular visitor to Kinvara. Her process is rooted in material play, through which, she believes, the more elusive aspects of human existence can be explored.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Mike Denver and guests in Salthill

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Mike Denver.

Mike Denver, one of Galway’s favourite singers, will return to Leisureland on Friday, August 26, delighted to be back on the road properly again.

Mike’s popularity led to him being voted Entertainer of the Year 2016,  together with having his album, Cut Loose, named Number One album of the Year at the ACMA Awards on RTÉ TV. To date, he has had 15 hit albums and five DVDs.

Having gathered a huge following in Ireland, North and South, he’s now making inroads in the  UK.

With his excellent backing band Mike will present a high-energy, two-and-a-half-hour show at Leisureland, which will feature all his hits, including Tommy K, Wasn’t that a Party, Galway Girl and Blown Away, alongside other hits from the 1960s and 1970s. He will be joined on the night by special guests and  Country legends, Brendan Shine and Ray Lynam.

■ Tickets for MIke’s show in Leisureland on Friday, August 26, are available at Kelly’s Foodstore Clarinbridge, Tel 091-796105 and from Ticketmaster.ie

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