At The Mike Stand With… Ardal O’Hanlon
By Michael Fitzpatrick
If one were to think of the most quoted, loved and imitated characters from the Irish (or indeed ‘Oirish’) imagination, there’s no doubt that figures such as Darby O’Gill, Captain Boyle, Dorian Gray, Jimmy Rabbitte Sr. and Leopold Bloom would figure prominently.
Then of course, there’s Father Dougal Maguire, the man who brought the Travel Scrabble for when they were traveling, and the normal Scrabble, for when they arrived, though now that he thought of it, he didn’t bring either of them.
Created by Arthur Mathews and Graham Linehan, and brought to life by the then little-known stand-up comic, Ardal O’Hanlon, Father Dougal, from the incredibly popular sitcom ‘Father Ted’, will go down in comic history as a truly unforgettable individual.
Since the show’s three season run, Ardal has gone on to become one of Ireland’s greatest comic exports, starring in five seasons of British sci-fi sitcom, ‘My Hero’, taking on several roles in films such as ‘The Butcher Boy’ and ‘The Adventures of Greyfriars Bobby’ and also forging a successful writing career.
It is stand-up though, where the County Monaghan native thrives however, and we were fortunate enough to chat with Ardal before a recent show in New York at the annual Craic Comedy Festival.
Ardal, welcome to ‘At The Mike Stand’.
What would you like your own tribute act to be called?
Ardal’s Folly (although that sounds more like a trad band).
When’s the last time you laughed out loud?
I howled laughing recently while reading Kevin Barry’s short stories, ‘Dark Lies the Island’.
What act would you like to have seen perform live?
James Brown. I just feel he might have loosened something in my bones (I’m a dancer trapped in the body of a tree).
What team(s) do you support?
Ireland, Leeds United and Barcelona.
What period in history would you most like to have visited?
The late 18th century – American revolution, French Revolution, United Irishmen, excitement, new ideas, opera in the evenings, horseback, duels, I mean, c’mon.
What song would you most like to have written?
‘Into My Arms’ by Nick Cave, a love song, and a prayer for the secular age.
Who or what, would make you leave a room?
What decade rules (and why)?
Seventies of course – Led Zeppelin, Leeds United on top, ‘The Godfather’ (1 and 2), ‘The Deerhunter’, The Clash.
What movie role would you like to have played/play?
I’d like to been in any Preston Sturges movie.
Have you ever been told you looked like somebody?
I was mistaken for Willem Dafoe in a bar in LA, and for Denis Leary on a couple of occasions.
What’s the first album you remember buying?
The truth is probably ‘Abba Arrival’ but I prefer to remember ‘Germ Free Adolescents’ by X Ray Spex.
What’s your favorite Christmas song?
‘Fairytale of New York’ by Shane MacGowan.
Who’s the most rock and roll person who ever lived?
Possibly Shane MacGowan. As well as being an incredible poet of the night, he appears to be utterly indestructible.
What artist/song/genre do you secretly enjoy listening to?
Alternative country – Will Oldham, Smog etc. (but I am a happy person, honest I am).
Who would you most like to meet/have met?
I’d like to play 5 a side with Lionel Messi.
What book can you read again and again?
New York writer Don de Lillo is worth revisiting for his wit and perceptions. I also have a quirky book at home called ‘Dutch Fields’, which is simply a collection of photographs of Dutch soccer pitches by a guy called Hans Van der Meer which always brings a smile to my face.
What’s the greatest album ever recorded?
Van Morrison’s ‘Astral Weeks’.
What sitcom character can you most identify with?
Father Dougal McGuire, I suppose, as he remains a part of me although I do share the exasperation of Larry David.
What movie can you watch over and over again?
‘Apocalypse Now’, ‘Fargo’ and ‘Elf’.
Who’s your favorite cartoon character?
Peter Griffin (from ‘Family Guy’).
What’s the greatest place you’ve visited?
Beijing, for its amazing attractions (Great Wall etc) and its even better street-life.
Who’s the funniest person who ever lived?
Larry David comes close.
Who’s your favorite character from literature?
Holden Caulfield (from ‘The Catcher in the Rye’).