herald

Sunday 22 April 2018

Why father and son are a satirist's nightmare

WHEN the story of Michael Healy-Rae and the phone voting on I'm An Irish Celebrity, Turn Off The TV Now broke, people said to me: "This is great for you guys. You don't have to write anything, just report what MHR says." What a light day for a satirist when your politician comes pre-lampooned.

On the face of it, the Healy-Raes look like God's gift to a satirist. They are the masters of the ludicrous. They long ago grasped that there's no stage too big to stand on and babble from about, essentially, the time they fixed your mother's pothole.

Out of the Atlantic mist they come at the slightest provocation. Musical, lilting codology bubbles out of their lips like a stream from the foothills of Carrauntoohil.

With their wee flat caps and their dog-eared collars, they look at you full of pity and reproach that ye do not come from Kerry so ye could hardly be expected to understand, God love ye.

But that's just the problem. The joy of satire is in peeling the shiny-suited veneer to reveal the hideous blueshirt or the desperate FF hack or the sanitised Shinner beneath.

But with the Healy-Raes, their costumes are funnier than your cartoons. Their statements are more absurd than any you could make up. Their press conferences make Killinaskully look like a gritty urban drama.

The Healy-Raes provide the biggest challenge to the contemporary Irish satirist today. Don't get me wrong, I'll strap on the fat suit and the comical caipin and have a go. But, I must admit, they are more ridiculous than anything I could come up with.

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