Irish comedian Pat Shortt, who’s soon about to be 50, tells Fiona O’Brien that as long as there’s real Irish people he’ll never run out of comedy characters but he’d never try to make up characters as outlandish as Kerry’s Healy-Raes
On the last day of August, Pat Shortt sits at his desk and finds himself with a welcomed problem, as he struggles to look through all of the differing projects needing his attention.
“Two days ago I had two less to deal with, and literally yesterday two more landed on my desk. Sure, lookit, what else would you be doing?” he says. “It feels more and more like I’m a school teacher at this time of year, every year, getting ready to get back to work after the holidays.”
For someone who says they feel like they’ve had a summer break, Pat still sounds quite a busy man as he has been fitting in a bit of touring, as well as test-screening the second series to the acclaimed TV3 drama Smalltown.
“It all started for me when I bumped into John Kenny one day, I went to art college in Limerick and really it was John that introduced me to comedy – I was just a saxophone musician, playing jazz and all that when I was a young fella,” Pat told the Irish World.
The Craic Started
“The opportunity to work with John was fantastic, I started playing a bit of music with him and then, of course, the craic started and I loved all the fun we were having and I really admired John for all of the individual stand up that he had done even before I met him. I was absolutely blown away by his comedy.
“We worked closely together then for a while and then of course we came up with D’Unbelievables and sure the rest is history after that,” he continued. “That was my first interaction in comedy and I think that when John got ill then a year or two later, I went out on my own then and thus this was my first ever venture as a solo performer and getting into stand up and all that.
“Here we are, 16 years later, I’ve done so much in the in the meantime, it’s been amazing.”
Pat’s upcoming show in Dingle is a return to his roots, so to speak as he returns to the county where himself and his team first perfected the show that will be entertaining the West Kerry audience next Friday night, a little local coincidence that surprises me, before Pat explains how it all came about.
“I used to do all these runs in a small theatre/studio in Limerick and we’d invite about a 100 or so people in and we’d have a bar in and we’d have a bit of craic and do the show you know and after a while I started to worry – ‘are these just all my friends now and are they laughing because they have to?!'” he chuckled to himself.
“The lady that runs the theatre in Waterville was mad for me to come down and do something there and I just thought, wouldn’t it be great to come in there for a week if we could, we’d rent a house in the area and it’s just a great way to work, you know.
“You’re in there all day working away, come home and cook dinner and just head down to the pub then for a drink, go for a walk on the beach and head back in and do some more work and then at the end of the week, we were able to put on two shows for the locals and get an honest reaction and, By God!, they wouldn’t be long telling you what they thought!”
It’s safe to say that Pat is excited by what will be his first proper regional tour of the UK, as he plays Liverpool and Tyneside at the end of the month before coming to London.
‘Jaysus, will he ever just stay away from me?!’
“I’m very excited about it, I have to say, it’ll be great craic, I’m looking forward to it! I’ve played the London before and we always get a huge reaction from the expats crowd.
“It is something new and I suppose after being there with the lads and its such a great area and the people are so nice. It’s funny, you sometimes play the big venues and you forget to go off and play the smaller venues – there’s just something you get when you go to smaller areas that’s extra special.”
So, what can people expect from the night?
Well, as Pat says, if you’re a fan of his comedy, then you’ll know what to expect!
“Right from the word go, I’m going to right stick into the audience and I think that anyone that is a fan of Pat Shortt is going to see a lot of familiar things in the show; with the audience of course, I never set out to upset anyone of course, I just want to get stuck right into it and have a bit of fun, mayhem and madness with everyone,” he continued.
“I love the stage work, I do a lot of film and TV work, but stage is an instant reaction you know, the craic is mighty and especially when you’re doing comedy and the comedy that I do. You go down into the crowd and you’re right in there and you can just see the faces looking back at you, wondering ‘jaysus, will he ever just stay away from me?!”
“The one thing about my characters is that they know everyone in the audience personally and the audience becomes the local community and so I’m going to be coming out on stage talking to the people like I’ve known them all my life; the fun is always on my characters and never on the people in the audience.
“That’s the ‘Irishness’ of what I do and in the past, I’ve been described by critics as indigenously Irish. I love that because it is that one on one conversation with the audience that I have that you won’t get from other performers – I bring the stage to them,” he continued.
While we might focus on the many fictional characters in his act, I can’t resist the opportunity to elicit his reaction to two of Kerry’s most famous headline grabbers and political duo, the Healy Raes – a subject which draws a huge guffaw from the comedian.
“Nobody would believe me if I wrote a character based on those two. You just couldn’t write what the Healy Raes say – there’s the fairy fort stuff that Danny was talking about in the Dáil and you know, it’s just unbelievable what he’s come out with,” he chuckled.
“I’ll give them credit though, they have their audience and while Danny may be a rogue, he’s their rogue you know,” he chuckled again.
“You certainly won’t be seeing a Healy Rae-esque character on a Pat Shortt stage anytime soon let me tell you.
“My characters and my inspiration for material, you’re always just picking up different things from everyday life and your experiences and people you’ve met, someone actually asked me in the past if I ever thought I’d run out of characters and I said ‘not at all’.
“Once there’s Irish people out there, there’s always going to be characters out there – you can see them out in all ages, shapes and sizes. I’m always watching people and seeing how they interact so I’ll be flying it.”
For more information see www.patshortt.com