Ardal O'Hanlon Live From Dublinís Gaiety Theatre, 1997
I donít remember buying this album (just the audio recording) but I do remember listening to it endlessly on the tape recorder in my little room at university. In fact, I remember the actual performance almost verbatim. Iím not sure where it was recorded but it starts with Ardal berating the crowd for applauding so much: ĎItís not Gladiators, you knowí, and ends with, ĎIf you expect a kick in the balls and you get a slap in the face, thatís a victoryí. I did my first stand-up gig about a year after it came out and did the whole thing with a bewildered persona and a slight but noticeable Irish lilt (something Iím both ashamed and confused about as I now canít actually do any accents, especially Irish). I loved Ardal. I liked Father Ted, but I loved Ardal. It took about two years for me to stop pretending to be Ardal. I met Ardal for the first time last year and involuntarily adopted his persona and voice once more. Itís all very embarrassing.
By the time I dragged my friends to this show I knew I wanted to be a comedian. Iíd been to the Store a few times by myself and couldnít believe the whole world wasnít going on about it. It was like Belinda Carlisleís Heaven Is A Place On Earth. My own gigs were occasionally generating a smile or even a chuckle, but at the Store you got soaked in laughter. This was what live comedy was about. The night I took my friend Mike along culminated in the comedians forming a spontaneous band and thrashing out a couple of songs in a breathless, hilarious fashion. I wish I could remember who was on but I know Harry Hill was singing and I think Dave Johns was on guitar. It was the best thing Iíd ever witnessed and Iím pretty sure I nicked the idea of comedians mucking about with musicians and turned it into the Horne Section a decade later. My first date with my wife was at the Comedy Store to see the players. I canít wait to take my kids there too.
Armando Iannucci: Facts and Fancies
Iím getting worse and worse at reading books. Right now Iíve been reading the same crime novel for about six months and I honestly donít know what itís called or who itís by. I know what colour it is. I think thereís a horse on the cover. But I pretty much hate it. I dread it. Iím so tired when I open it in bed that it takes me five minutes to work out whatís going on at all. I end up going back a few pages to re-join the story. Then I fall asleep after two paragraphs. Soon Iíll be back at the beginning. Iím determined to finish it somehow but I fear itís a Sisyphean task. Luckily Armando Iannucciís book is a masterpiece featuring only short stories. Theyíre beautifully constructed, like the best, funniest adverts you remember as a kid - but without the shame of being adverts. Iíve read this book several times - in fact I think itís the only book Iíve read more than once. Also, it looks like he made the cover himself while drunk on Photoshop.
Alex Horne (and Tim Key): Everybody Talks, 2004.
Now this was a show. I did as a double act with Tim (although he never featured in the title because I had an excellent agent) and I think this was our best one. I really liked it. I donít think that many people in the audience did but I thought it was very funny. Every night I chuckled away. That might have been part of the problem. The subtitle to the show was ĎThe 2004 International Body Language Seminarí and it was, I think, the first time I fully embraced PowerPoint. Iíll never forget that initial connection, the electricity between us. My life has not been the same since. Tim and I may have stopped performing together (well, kind of. If you discount We Need Answers and a lot of other stuff. In fact we are actually doing our first two-man for 7 years on August 14 of this year - itís regrettably called Horne And Key And... but I think itís sold out because Tim is a Ďhotshotí now so not worth wasting too many precious words on) but Iíve never left PowerPointís side (although I should say that I now use Macís Keynote programme which is far superior).
Man On The Moon, 1999
This is a Jim Carrey film. But itís not a ĎJim Carrey filmí. Itís a biopic about Andy Kaufman, a comedian I know nothing about, save for this film, but whom I admire absolutely. I donít really want to know any more about Andy Kaufman because the film has distilled his life into a perfectly digestible snapshot and Iím happy with that much knowledge. I donít want to know the truth. I should also say that I am the worldís worst film critic. Iíve never seen a film I donít like. Theyíre all amazing. I mean, look at them! Look at the amount of people in the credits! Itís just me behind my shows. Hundreds of people worked on The Full Monty. All films are brilliant. And ideally, my own (exceptionally humdrum) career will be turned into a feature in 50 years time and will star Hollywoodís gurniest actor, breathing new and polished life into my otherwise pedestrian existence.
You've Been Framed - either 1990-1997 or 2004-Present.
Perhaps disappointingly to a stand-up comic, there is nothing funnier than Youíve Been Framed. The performances are so natural, the plotting inspired, the music so januty. We should be far more proud of this national treasure than we are. Youíve Been Framed is something we all share, like Christmas, and it makes us all smile, unlike Christmas. ĎI wish Iíd filmed that, Iíd have a got a tenner from Youíve Been Framedí, we say when granny falls over. ĎThis is gonna be goodí we said, when Beadle introduced a sleepy animal medley. And now, with Harry Hill in charge of the voiceover, any weak links have been eliminated. This is perfect comedy, not dated like the Dead Parrot sketch or knowing like The Office. Itís not overly scripted, itís not weird for the sake of being weird, itís just funny. If Jim could fix anything for me itíd be to get in the audience for a You've Been Framed recording, if they do still record it in front of an audience. If not, to get into an edit suite. Or, ultimately, to have access to the vault that features in the intro sequence. That really would be heaven.