Oliver Callan and Mario Rosenstock are talented impressionists – as both men would no doubt readily agree! They have brought some joy to the nation, though not necessarily as much as they may believe.
The main reason I generally avoid Oliver and Mario is because the scripts they work with are often very weak. Good impressions are consistently let down by entirely predictable and lame jokes; devastating satire, it is not.
That’s why I’m pleasantly surprised with ‘Callan Kicks The Years’, an ambitious sketch series which takes a satirical look back on the past 100 years in Ireland.
Joined by a large cast of actors, Oliver Callan whizzes through our nation’s history, depicting a range of characters across politics, entertainment and sport. It’s actually quite impressive.
Amongst those featured/gently lampooned are de Valera, Haughey, Reynolds, Fitzgerald, Ahern, Mary Robinson, Francis Brennan, Des Cahill, Bono, Bob Geldof, Mary Lou, etc. Some of it doesn’t work, but there are a lot of ingenious touches, impressive impersonations and clever jokes.
It’s hit and miss, and I certainly didn’t expect to like it, but the short, snappy sketches – mixed with fleeting real footage of featured historical figures – adds up to an original and worthy series.
Seamus Duke’s big book launch – it is a big book and it was a big launch – was a great success tonight. It was a bit like old times (i.e. pre-Covid), as a large crowd gathered in the magnificent Abbey Hotel ballroom for the occasion.
The book – ‘Dukie: The Game of Life’ – is an engrossing, comprehensive, entertaining and nostalgic compilation of memories of great sporting events, political dramas, and of course highlights of the author’s career in the local media and his lifetime interest in music, as well as a part-social history of Roscommon Town and county.
An excellent read, I can recommend ‘Dukie: The Game of Life’ as an ideal Christmas present for anyone with an interest in matters Roscommon, GAA, sport generally, current affairs and politics, and indeed the intriguing world of media.
I had the honour of being MC at the launch, where special guests were GAA managerial legend John O’Mahony and top RTE broadcaster Damien O’Reilly. Both gentlemen made fine speeches, as did the debut author.
There was a real feel-good atmosphere on the night, with many of Seamus’s friends, acquaintances and work colleagues (past and present) there to convey their congratulations.
Writing this book was a long-held ambition for Seamus, a man with a great passion for Roscommon GAA, and for his native county generally. That he achieved his goal – and with such a fine publication – is a great credit to him. I wish ‘Dukie’ every success – it’s a book which will revive happy memories and bring a lot of enjoyment.
Watching Liam Brady and Eamon Dunphy going through the motions with Ryan Tubridy tonight, something didn’t feel quite right. This was the Cuddly Dunphy of recent years, bereft of the fire and fury of old. And that’s fine. People mellow.
What was a bit strange was the sight of Brady as would-be controversialist, Stirrer-in-Chief even. All of a sudden, Liam (grumpy at the best of times!) has morphed into the role of The RTE Pundit Who Must Be Calmed. Who’d have thought it? As Brady (no doubt sincerely) rallied against offering Irish manager Stephen Kenny a new contract in the short-term, it was left to Dunphy to adopt the unfamiliar role of actually defending the incumbent.
I don’t know if they had a beverage in the ‘Green Room’ afterwards, but I could almost imagine Eamon holding Liam back during a heated stand-off with a researcher. “He’s not worth it, Chippy, you’re better than that!” (Memo to Liam Brady’s legal people: ‘Could almost imagine’).
A notable personal achievement today…as I recorded Ireland v New Zealand, successfully avoided Twitter, my phone, excitable rugby types, etc. for a few hours – and then watched the recording on Saturday night without actually knowing the result. As fans of such risky behaviour will know, this ‘Record and avoid result’ tactic is fraught with danger.
When that great stalwart Peter O’Mahony did his Michael Flatley impression after securing the late penalty that ended New Zealand’s hopes of a comeback, I almost broke into an impromptu dance myself, but instead stayed in my chair. (A wonderful Irish display led to a 29-20 win).
While it was good to see the Republic of Ireland easily account for Luxembourg (a 3-0 win for Stephen Kenny’s team), there’s an awful price to pay…no prospect of sparks in the RTE studio between pundits Liam Brady and Richie Sadlier.
Of course this is what should have happened when we played the same opposition in March (instead, our shock 1-0 loss poured the pressure on Kenny, who couldn’t buy a win – or even a goal – in those days).
After all, as a teenager in the 1980s, I discovered there were a few certainties in life. For example, Charlie Haughey thought he ran Ireland, Gay Byrne actually did…and our soccer team would always beat Luxembourg by at least three goals.
A mid-morning walk in my old home village…the beauty of nature and the tranquillity of a quiet morning combining on a stunning day.
Approaching Rooskey from the Leitrim side, the trees adjacent to the River Shannon are virtually showing off at this stage…proudly displaying a stunning variety of glorious autumnal colours.
Everything seems calm on this beautiful morning, the waters barely rippling in a river which must now accept the seasonal absence of purring cruisers and appreciative tourists. On the water’s edge on the Roscommon side, a lone fisherman is lost in his contentment.
A few buoys bobble in the river and a few boys babble in two cars parked near the irrelevant and misleading ‘Bus Stop’ sign.
The walk to Rooskey locks is always relaxing. Leaves fall and twirl from powerless trees like mischievous toddlers briefly escaping the clutches of their parents. There is little sound, bar the singing of birds in the trees, and – floating across the river – the gentle hum of machinery in the distance.
A woman walks by with a greyhound. A man walks by with no greyhound. The morning is so warm, when a jeep slows, I’m almost tempted to ask the driver for the temperature. But that might be an odd thing to do, and anyways I’d prefer not to think about global warming just now, instead to simply categorise this as a beautiful autumn morning.
At the bridge and along the route to the locks, memories of my youth in the village return…images of a busy harbour, packed bars, a bustling bacon factory. The years too have fallen away like the swirling leaves.
When I’m back at the bridge, the birds are joined by the uplifting ringing of the Rooskey Church bells. This morning’s symphony of nature’s finest glories, with the odd human cameo, has somehow slowed a mad world down.
Tonight, with Covid gloom suddenly accelerating again, and the relentless blah blah of Prime Time, the Tonight Show and Twitter closing in on me, I suddenly (and ingeniously) sought refuge in a safe place: Fawlty Towers on the Gold channel.
Yes, I rejected the politicians, the professors, the graphs and the projections, instead losing myself in 35 minutes of comedy magic (‘The Hotel Inspectors’). It confirmed what everyone must know…that Fawlty Towers is the best sit-com of all time. I’m not making light of the desperate Covid trend of the past week or so; this was sheer escapism. And, just now, a bit of escapism is recommended!