"The amount of times I had to take off my glasses to wipe away the tears of laughter," the woman behind us said, shaking her head at her friend who still had obvious tears in her eyes too.
They weren’t alone, as people complained of sore sides and aching faces after the Gift Grub 3 show in the Marquee.
If Mario Rosenstock felt the pressure of expectation to entertain his largest audience to date he didn’t show it, as he deftly shuffled his array of characters in a mixture of live performance and pre-recorded clips that ensured the pace of the show never skipped a beat.
It was up to Michael D himself to open the show for Mario, and with a stern warning to the audience “not to fuck it up,” it was over to Miriam O’Callaghan, in full pink ballgown, where she explained, genuinely, what it takes for a working mum to get out the door: from bringing the kids to bricklaying classes to bleeding radiators, interviewing the Taoiseach and opening 180-odd charities.
The clips ranged from Enda Kenny doing an impression of Mr T at the behest of Kenny Egan, Bono and The Edge, James Reilly as a werewolf doing public health warnings which may prove to be quite prophetic, and the image of Joan Burton twerking never fails to disturb.
But the biggest cheer was for local lad, Roy Keane. His complaints about not only being in a tent — is this a circus, am I the fucking clown – but that the tent was in car park had the audience in stitches. When Roy had a run through This is Your Life it was a chance to show off all the voices that have made Mario one of the best impressionists in the country.
Alex Ferguson, Jaap Stam, Niall Quinn, Steve Staunton and John Delaney, in a live link up from Rio, were all dusted off to great effect. The only problem was it was too short. He could have included more Roy because we were all left wanting more.
The perma-tanned, tooth-whitened Marty Morrissey was in a white Saturday Night Fever suit, flirting with the ladies interspersed with video clips of him using cheesy chat up lines such as ‘are you Google?, ‘cause you are everything I’m searching for’.
Vincent Brown was portrayed as a vampire running his programme from a coffin in a graveyard, simmering with resentment that Enda won’t go on his show, and ending up a broken man after dealing with Mick Wallace, Napoleon, Mary Lou McDonald, Willie O’Dea.
His show also involved a lot of audience participation – or should I say a lot of being volunteered to take part. There was poor John O’Sullivan from near Macroom who was forced on stage by a feather-duster wielding Frances Brennan to go into a toilet cubicle for the inevitable toilet humour that followed. And Sean and Paula O’Leary from Frankfield who had to take part in a new game show hosted by Daniel O’Donnell called Shut Your Hole. He even got Louis Walsh to create a boy band with Les, Sean and Willie. He tried to dump Barry Murphy from the line up until the crowd booed his decision. A relieved looking Tony got the bullet and Toolz to Stoolz was born.
Led out at the end by Keith Duffy, he even got the lads to sing to huge cheers. But Barry Murphy had the last laugh. It wasn’t his own name. His name is actually Adrian but he used his neighbour’s name.
With two standing ovations by more than 3,000 people, it is easy to see why we’ve had 15 years of Gift Grubs and three live shows. Given the reaction, Mario has many years of well deserved success ahead.
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