An idea for an Irish Fast Show

The Fast Show was my favourite comedy show for years. It shouldn’t have been. I mean: it was moronically repetitive and stupid, when you thought about it. But funny. And that’s all that matters when it is meant to be, well…., funny!

So I’ve decided to do my personal homage to the Fast Show, with my own idea for an Irish Fast Show, shamelessly ripping off the format from the original.

Key idea: Identifiable Irish stereotypes, but with odd quirks. One single catchphrase that ends every sketch. Repetition of the basic plotline is key, but the humour lies in the situation. The Irish element is essentially derived from our national characteristics, of avoiding taboo subjects, like sex and cancer and who owns the field down the road. Where the English comedy relied on English vices, like the hen-pecked husband, the repressed homosexual toff, and the boasting car salesman, the Irish show has to foster a separate identifiably Irish character. However, some of the best Irish characters are already taken by the original show, such as the quietly-spoken Irish poet, who whispers in a barely audible voice. Or the Irish labourer, the counterpart to the landowner.

Incidentally, a related show, Father Ted, has also laid claim to vast swathes of Irish life. Indeed, it’s the same insane genuises who put Father Ted together and the best scenes from the Fast Show (Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews). In any case, there are plenty left for me to play around with.

(Note to my American Readers: Father Ted is the greatest comedy ever to come out of Ireland. If you can, see the series from episode one on, without reading about it. Honestly, you won’t regret the investment…)

So, everything is based on characters, put in different situations every week, but who basically act out the same sequence of basic acts and then utter the punchline phrase.
Uncle Bob, with the weird, unidentifiable odour and the fetish for salmon. Catchphrase: “Do I smell salmon?”. Comic situation: Standing on Ireland’s highest mountain, breathing the fresh air and at least 50 miles from the sea, he utters the catchphrase…

Father Billy, with a penchant for fondling rosary beads and giving overly zealous pats on the heads to children, and for stammering, who smells sightly musty, and always has a runny nose: His catchphrase is: “When did you last go to mass?”. As in: Very serious interview panel of the board of trustees of a large secondary school. Interviewing the latest candidate for role of school principal, (ie. Billy) and are on the verge of finishing the interview when the senior interviewer asks the candidate if he has any questions for the board of trustees. Billy pipes up…

Jenny, the shop owner, who always thinks the world was better 10 years ago, has pictures of Pope John Paul I on her wall (the first one, not the long-lasting second one) and who secretly prefers a good ham sandwich to sex: Catchphrase: “Fancy a boiled sweet?”. Jenny is confronted by a large gang of hardened criminals at the bank who demand that everyone hand over their money immediately. She smiles and says…

Frank, the hunting man, wears green or camoflage all the time, drives an SUV, wears wellingtons, smokes a pipe, and thinks Mary Harney is actually rather sexy. He thinks foxes are the root of all evil: His catchphrase is “Vermin!”. As in, a large gathering of well-dressed people are sipping champagne and quaffing those party nibbles they hand out, when suddenly our hero spots two poodles in the corner. Mistaking them for foxes, he produces a shotgun and fires, shouting…

Sonny, the little drunken plumber’s apprentice who always ends up breaking his hand whenever he gets into a needless fight: “I had the bastard, I did”. Example:  Sonny is walking in the park with a mate of his when some kids, aged seven or eight, innocently kick a ball towards him and shout: “Hey mister, kick us back our ball.” Sonny tries to hit the ball with his fist, misses and breaks his hand. He turns to his friend and says…

Malcom, the ex-priest from Sligo who can solve a rubiks cube in under twenty seconds but who thinks Father Ted is blasphemous: Catchphrase “Let me show you this”, said as he slides out his lad for the shock reaction. Riding home on the bus from a particularly rivetting and spiritually uplifting visit to Knock, Malcolm engages a reluctant stranger in conversation. The stranger, feeling taken in by this lovely priest, starts to unburden his inner thoughts…until Malcolm, seeing his opportunity, pulls out his wee tool and utters his catchphrase…

Johnny, the farmer, who is convinced people are stealing his fields, sod by sod, at night. Catchphrase: “Is that yours?” before taking whatever it is they say isn’t theres (as they invariably do). Obsessed with grass. As in, in his first visit to Croke Park, he does the grand tour. Sensing an opportunity, he sidles up to the guide and points to some grass and then whispers, …

Susie, the city girl, works in Kafe Mocha, and acts as if every conversation is to buy a cup of coffee. Her catchphrase is different every time, but always relies on the basic premise that the person talking to her really does want a cup of coffee, As in: Gardai are investigating a series of break-ins to local houses when they knock on Susie’s door. They ask her a series of simple questions, to which Susie always replies…”One lump or two?” or “Skinny or latte?” or “Napkins are on the counter behind you” to general bafflement.

Phil, the off-duty Guard, with incredibly bad eye sight, who keeps jaywalking and takes two papers when only paying for one, or who otherwise endlessly gets arrested for minor offences. Catchphrase: “Shite!”. As in: he carefully parks his car into a very tight spot, double-checks everything, before slowly opening his door and knocking over a cyclist. “Shite”…

Patrick, the sexless bachelor with a four-bedroom house in Mayo, who rents it out to foreign students in the mistaken apprehension that he’ll get laid by lots of foreign totty. Catchphrase: “Why don’t you try yourself?”, always with some lewd or lascivious intention. Example: Patrick is engaged in conversation by a rather beautiful Lithuanian woman at the check-out at his local Aldi. Needing to find some change to finish paying, he fidgets for loose coins in his jeans, whereupon the attractive girl says “Can you not find the money?” and our hero utters the immortal catchphrase…

Damien, a little man with oodles of cash buried away in a foreign bank account, but who spends his life acting like he has nothing to avoid the taxman, and the rest of the time wondering why he has money if he cannot use it. Catchphrase: “I can’t afford that…”. Enters Jenny’s shop (see above) and then she says her line and he replies…etc

And then there’s Gerry the Green candidate who cannot walk more than five paces without bending down to pick up litter; or Mary the immaculately dressed, who secretly eats tons of beans and asparagus, just so she can walk into Brown Thomas and fart everywhere; or Michael the estate agent who is homeless; or TJ the DJ; or PJ the …. aaargh….now the whole world seems like one vast Fast Show. I wish I hadn’t started this…


1 Comment

  1. David Levine said,

    October 13, 2007 at 3:31 am



    You should be writing for television then. Or bloggin.

    Wicked funny post!

    Thank you.

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