Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Stephen Lynch, Bulmers Comedy and You Tube fans

I never meant 2 cause u any sorrow.
I never meant 2 cause u any pain...
I only wanted 2 one time see u laughing.
I only wanted 2 see u laughing in the purple rain"

I discovered two things last night - one, that Purple Rain is a hilarious song and two, that that I'm not a Stephen Lynch fan.

Yes, I knew who he is, what type of songs he sings and the lyrics to some of them, but compared to the audience at Dublin's Olympia last night, their fanboy adulation and the exuberant applause that greeted every utterance from his lips, I feel like one of those people who say "Lord of the Rings? Absolute rubbish. I never read the books or saw the movie but it's still crap". I didn't have a clue.

Similar to Andrew, I was introduced to Stephen Lynch's music by Darren and Lottie, who stared at me incredulously when I admitted that no, I'd never heard of him. Cue You Tube and the playing of many videos, much laughter and gasps of shock from me at some of the lyrics. Filthy, obscene, irreverend and quite often very, very manky. I loved it. I immediately got copies of the albums and they've been standards in my iPod playlists for the past few months.

I had no idea he was popular this side of the water though. We found out too late he'd played Whelan's earlier this year AND was in Kilkenny for the Cats Laugh Festival so seeing him as one of the opening acts for the Bulmers Comedy Festival was quite a nice surprise. Tickets bought immediately, it became the gig to look forward to for the summer. The fact the first one sold out and they added a second was some indication for me, but then again, it may have been the only tickets they could get for the Festival, seeing as some of the big names were sold out, right?


Lynch's following over here seems to be huge! I really felt sorry for the lovely Ruth-Anne Cunningham, the singer who went on as a warm up. She apologised almost straight away that she "wasn't a comedian" and launched into some soulful, poppy tunes that were completely inappropriate for the night and the audience, even if she did tie in a bit of Prince at the end.

I'm not sure why Bulmers chose not to have a comedy act as a warm-up, especially given the amount of comedy acts in Dublin, though fair play to her, she did her best for the songs she sang. Apparently very successful State Side (and deservedly so) I think we were just bored waiting for Lynch to come on. I'd love to hear her perform in a different venue - last night, brave as she was, it just didn't work. Behind me people were asking afterwards "What was that girl's name at the start?" A pity.

So, though, how was Lynch? Hilarious.

The power of You Tube has really been elevated for me in the last few hours. I'm not sure if I'd forgotten or underestimated the power of the channel but I was taught/reminded that if your content is great, you will get an audience. The amount of people in the Olympia who knew all the lyrics was impressive. The last time I experienced anything like this live was a Christy Moore gig where he played Ride On and the crowd blasted it back at him. Even he seemed surprised and impressed at times at the level of audience participation.

He too understood this and didn't mind people filming it, as long as they gave an accurate representation of the performance. It's refreshing to see artists accepting that people want to share the experience, not to show it was bad, to how great it was and how much they enjoyed it. I'd say there'll be a fair few videos uploaded in the next few days!

I really got the sense that the Stephen Lynch on stage, as polished and contrived as his talking may be in places, is a fairly accurate reflection of him in real life. His banter with Rod Cone during "Big Fat Friend", though scripted (and obscene) conveyed a genuine warmth and friendship between the two that obviously enjoy what they're doing. It must be difficult to stick to the script time and again so their ad-libbing was much more for their benefit than for ours, however funny it was. Lynch has a great ability with voices - his Cartman was excellent - and it's these songs he seemed to enjoy most.

One thing that spoiled it slightly for me, and it's a lot to do with listening to live recordings as opposed to attending many live shows was some of the audience. I really enjoyed hearing people sing along and the giggles of those to whom the lyrics were new, but there were some people who took every opportunity to shout down song titles or just scream random, unnecessary gibberish that detracted from the experience. I'm not talking about the standard whistles and cheers, rather the drunken yells of those in love with their own voices at the cost of those around them. Niamh confided after the show how she'd have stabbed one of them in the eye if she could.

Massive credit must go to David Josefsberg (Lynch starred with him in Wedding Singer on Broadway) whose own voice and presence on stage added so much to the proceedings. Dirty Sanchez (you can see the performance here) was a new one to me, but absolutely hilarious. I had tears rolling down my face for most of it, but it's when the three launched into Purple Rain that I realised that comedy really is looking at the ordinary things in an extraordinary way. He didn't change the lyrics or anything much - they just sang it in a very funny way.

Last night was great. Laughter truly is a great medicine (as is sushi and Guinness) and Lynch and co provided a lot of laughter. I can understand how songs with Nazis, menstrual cycles, special needs children and AIDS may not be everyone's cup of tea but sometimes switching off the brain and indulging in a bit of wickedness can be a welcome reprieve from the seriousness of the situations around you. Being there with good friends who laughed, clapped and sang along - enjoying it as much if not more than I did made it all the better.

I'd go again if I could. I look forward to the Comedy Channel special he told us about, bleeps and all.

Stephen Lynch may not be a household name here yet, but he's on the way. Talented, funny and genuinely likable, he's an artist I look forward to seeing here again.

His website is at www.stephenlynch.com. You can check out the rest of the Bulmers Comedy Festival here.

If you were there, what did you think? If not, which comedy act would you like to see live?


  1. D, a fantastic post with some brilliant pictures. I have very little to add.

    I cried from laughing so hard and my sides actually hurt today. The man is a filthy, dirty genius. I loved every second of the gig.

  2. damn you all to hell Doyle! What can I write now? Great review.

    It really was great fun. I would love to see Darragh O'Briain but he's all sold out.

  3. JAB her Darragh, I would have JABBED that silly ***** in the eye if she'd been in the row behind us screaming like a hyena at random intervals.

    Otherwise - fun night!