There must be something in the water in Ireland, in the potatoes I mean, because they sure do breed them funny over there. This year's comedy festival seems to be full of witty Irishmen but if it's the best of the new talent you're after, look no further than Alan McElroy.
After introducing himself over loudspeaker, he bounded onto the modest Brooklyn Bar stage with his usual roadrunner energy. I couldn't help remembering that during my recent interview with him he'd told me he'd learned to slow his speech right down for Kiwi audiences. Well "jasus", as Alan would say, if that was his idea of slow... Not that it's a bad thing, at least while the mic's in Alan's hand there's no chance of getting bored.
The Irish expat regaled the audience with stories of his family life accompanied by photos, some slightly out of sequence but that didn't seem to perturb Alan, he just worked around it. He started by telling us his sister had rather sadistically revealed his conception had been an accident and after having worked out he'd been born just four months after his parents got married well, he couldn't argue. He used several portraits to illustrate he'd been cursed with a huge head as a child and had been the spitting image of the Irish actor Colin Meanie, thus making him the "original Benjamin Button".
There were hilarious (and at times poignant) anecdotes of growing up in a poor part of Dublin. Being punched in the face by a junkie, receiving second hand Christmas presents and the many ingenious ways his parents tried to put fear into him and his wayward brother. For instance they organised a group of Pikies to 'kidnap' them and his father once told them they'd had an older brother before he was killed and buried in the garden for being too "bold" (read: naughty).
The audience weren't very interactive but seemed happy to sit back and be entertained by the sometimes shocking and often self-deprecating comedian. Well, the English guy who was foolish enough to admit he was from Cambridge got a bit of ribbing every now and then, but that was to be expected. Naturally enough, Alan also made a few digs about Kiwis. Things like how he just can't fathom our love of pineapple lumps and tendency to go without footwear. He was also careful to explain words people here often misunderstand. He told us his wife was a "norse", no not the Viking type but the kind that works in a hospital, silly.
A fun debut solo show. If this is a sign of things to come, I imagine we'll be seeing a lot more of Alan McElroy on the local comedy scene.