herald

Friday 19 October 2018

'All we had was crackers and cheese... but guess what? We survived'

Bernard O’Shea stars at the Cat Laughs festival alongside Eric Lalor, Jason Manford and Deirdre O’Kane
Bernard O’Shea stars at the Cat Laughs festival alongside Eric Lalor, Jason Manford and Deirdre O’Kane

Comedian and radio presenter Bernard O'Shea has revealed the recent 'Beast from the East' almost forced him to go gluten-free.

Comedy fans attending this summer's Cat Laughs festival in Kilkenny can look forward to a hilarious collection of comics on show, including self-confessed "eejit" O'Shea.

Speaking to the Herald this week about Cat Laughs, the comedian revealed that he did go gluten-free during the recent snow storms.

Not that the host of 2FM's Breakfast Republic show has jumped on the "trendy" lactose-intolerant, gluten-free bandwagon. Far from it.

It's just that, unlike large swathes of the Irish population who hoarded enough sliced pan to last until next winter, it never occurred to him to stock up on bread before it was all sold out.

"On the night before the storm, my wife told me to go to the shop to get the basics," he told the Herald.

Essentials

However, instead of the four most popular items that were scooped up ahead of last month's "snowmageddon" - bread, milk, eggs and wine - he bought crackers, mouthwash, bleach and gorgonzola cheese.

"The wife rang me and said, 'You f**king eejit! All we have is crackers and cheese. No one will eat. How can these be basics?'."

While the snow swirled around his Castleknock home for two days, Bernard, wife Lorna and their two children, Olivia (3) and Tadgh (1), were forced to go without sandwiches or toast for two entire days.

"We had no bread. But, guess what? We survived," he said.

Eric Lalor
Eric Lalor

Bernard will be joining a star-studded list of comedians set to thrill fans this June bank holiday weekend at Cat Laughs.

He will be among a number of Irish comedians performing at the 24th annual comedy fest, running from May 31 to June 3, alongside household names including Aisling Bea, Neil Delamere, Andrew Maxwell, Karl Spain, Eric Lalor and Alison Spittle.

American stand-up Reginald D Hunter will also be performing, as will Jason Manford and Sara Pascoe.

Tickets are available now from thecatlaughs.com and readers of the Herald will have the chance to win a "golden ticket" that will grant the winner access to all areas at the event for free. There will be other exclusive competitions featured in this newspaper over the coming weeks, so keep an eye out.

However, it's just this kind of domestic cluelessness that Laois native O'Shea plans to mine in his stand-up comedy routine at the festival.

"I'm not good with numbers or letters or anything that needs a form to fill in. Or any life skills really," he said.

Jason Manford
Jason Manford

Lorna, his long-suffering wife of eight years, is a constant reminder of Bernard's daily battles with idiocy, he adds.

"She calls me a f**king eejit at least twice or three times a day," he said. "I don't know how she copes."

O'Shea cites the time he rang Lorna at work from the motor tax office because he not only forgot how old he was, but also his birthday. It never occurred to him to look at his driving licence.

"I make a lot of problems for myself," he admits.

"I can't do anything straightforward."

Fair City star and funnyman Eric Lalor will also be taking the stage at the Cat Laughs festival.

The actor explained to the Herald that it's hard for people to see his lighter side when he has a reputation as an "evil gobs***e".

Although he has won the Irish stand-up comedian of the year gong for two consecutive years and has been a regular on the comedy circuit here and abroad for many years, to most, he's recognised as that "p***k off Fair City".

Even his nefarious character on RTE's long-running soap, the slimy hotel owner Cathal Spillane, is now getting some funny lines thanks to the show's writers who are starting to milk his comedic talents to make him less of a hate figure.

"Weirdly, people are starting to warm to him," the 44-year-old Ballymun native told the Herald.

"I've been given some killer put-down lines lately."

Detested

In one episode, gay coffee shop worker Cristiano San Martin, played by actor Rodrigo Ternevoy, gives the universally detested Cathal a withering look. "I smirk and say 'there's no point in you giving me the hairy eyeball, I'm not on your bus'," he said.

"We had to retake the scene a few times because the cast kept cracking up."

And while he is described as having a "warm and energetic stage presence" Eric said it's still hard for some people to separate his Fair City character from his persona as a funnyman, even though he has been a comedian for more than a decade.

Since he took up the Fair City role over two years ago he is often spotted on the street by viewers who not only refuse to believe that he's actually a nice guy, but funny to boot.

"The typical reaction is 'Oh My God, there's that p***k from Fair City. How can he be funny?' They can't compute it with my happy-go-lucky stand-up character," he said.

Some diehard Fair City fans have even started attending his comedy gigs to find out for themselves, while others will approach him but not admit to actually watching the soap.

"I went to the loo at a Radiohead gig and a guy saw me in the mirror and said, 'I thought you were on the run?'

"He was about to take a photo of me and then said 'I don't watch it myself, it's for my ma'," he said.

"I said 'Well, if you don't watch it, how do you know I'm on the run?'," he said with a laugh.

He is currently working on new material he will showcase at his gig at the Cat Laughs festival.

Among his topics is the Irish obsession with the weather.

Along with the "insatiable need for bread" that emerged during the recent 'Beast of the East' snow storm, he delves into the mystery of why people from normally warm and sunny climes like Australia and Brazil still come here willingly.

"I still can't get my head around these climate missionaries. What the f**k is wrong with them?," he said.

Other topics include Brexit, current affairs and personal anecdotes as a father of four children, as well as the cost of living in Ireland "which is actually quite funny if it doesn't make you cry", he added.

He is also looking forward to meeting up with other Irish comedians, including Des Bishop, who encouraged him to get into the business and will be performing at the festival along with other favourites like Maeve Higgins and Deirdre O'Kane.

"It's one of the festivals we all look forward to," he said.

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