herald

Friday 30 September 2016

Dogs with talent, singing priests, and a show-stopper from Robert Downey Jr - all thanks YouTube

Only Edith Piaf could get away with the phrase, "Non, je ne regret rein".

We all regret something. In my case, it's knowing my nan missed out on becoming a global celebrity by an unfortunate accident of timing.

A countrywoman who married a man who'd been interned in Ballykinlar Camp during the War of Independence, my granny could've been as famous as Countess Markievicz if she hadn't died shortly before the birth of YouTube.

Revolution

Ten years ago, YouTube hosted its first homemade video. A 19-second clip. Those nineteen seconds paved the way for a social revolution that now has a billion people logging on every day to watch some of the three hundred hours of new video content that's uploaded every minute. Yes. That surprised me too. Every minute.

My granny didn't know it but she could have become a celebrity vlogger (that's video blogger for those of you who couldn't care less about surfboarding goats or Ferraris crashing). The kids on her street knew my gran had what it took to become a social media giant. She had Snoopy.

They'd knock on the door at all hours to see that silvery Yorkshire terrier perform a repertoire of tricks that included playing along to Brendan Shine by hitting the fireside companion set with his paw and doing an impersonation of former British prime minister Harold Wilson.

Well, when he tilted his head, with a pipe in his mouth, you'd have sworn he was the man who sent British troops to Northern Ireland in 1969.

That dog would have been a wow on YouTube. And today I could be the go-to guy for innovative content.

Dancing babies, grumpy cats, lip-synching brats, drones, ice buckets and cookery tips, I'd be, like, so there.

One sensation I missed out on was Fr Ray Kelly, Ireland's latest singing priest. Like the man at Decca who didn't sign the Beatles, I passed on Rayo a few years ago when I heard him butting in at a funeral and drowning out the choir with his unsolicited warbling. Apart from considering it rude to jam unannounced over the other singers, I viewed the padre as a needy wannabe whose impromptu showboating lacked decorum.

There were a few musicians in the church that sad day and I wonder what Ray would have thought if one of them, say Podge from chart band Ham Sandwich, hopped up to do Ray's gig - "Let us proclaim the mystery of faith…"

Believing the world's got enough of pop priests with Fr Michael Cleary's notorious All Priests Show back in the day, I gave the Oldcastle Orbison's unctuous ululations a big thumbs down. If I'd whipped out my iPhone and added Ray to the zillions of vids on YouTube, I'd be expecting a business call from Justin Bieber. Today's Ray's clips are not far off fifty million hits.

With the one-time civil servant now turned pastor hopefully donating all his royalties to charitable causes, it's a win-win situation for everyone. Isn't that right, Bishop?

Walkout

My essential visit to YouTube this week was to witness Robert Downey Jr's walkout on a Channel 4 interview. What drama. I might be expected to side with the journalist here. And I have some sympathy for Krishnan Guru-Murthy, a reporter doing his job, interviewing a Hollywood star with a bunch of over-anxious PR advisers hovering off-camera.

We've all had those awkward moments. I've had a few. Like the time I asked Anthony Kiedis of Red Hot Chili Peppers, a band with a past almost as colourful as Downey Jr's, about the death of friend River Phoenix. An over-zealous aide immediately stopped the interview and ordered me out.

I looked at Anthony and said, "Your call, mate." The singer talked eloquently about the tragedy. He's cool. And I suspect Downey Jr is too.

Like a Conference League substitute, the Channel 4 man disastrously misjudged his tackle and became the story instead of reporting it. RDJ put the wind up Krishnan, who might have performed better if he'd been interviewing a singing priest.

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