The Rubberbandits are bringing a new show to a town near you

Beware. The Rubberbandits are bringing their madcap musical to a town near you, writes Richard Fitzpatrick

The Rubberbandits are bringing a new show to a town near you

The Rubberbandits are from the zany wing of the satire school, part of a continuum of Irish tomfoolery that stretches back through Flann O’Brien and Jonathan Swift.

They became prominent in late 2010 with their viral hit, ‘Horse Outside’, a song about “espousing the values of owning a horse over an automobile,” as they explained to Ryan Tubridy on The Late Late Show.

It was an instant classic, clocking up 1.5m hits in five days on YouTube. Its outrageous exploration of austerity, as recession in Ireland drifted into a third year, hit the funny bone at an unfunny moment.

“Not a lot of people have a horseload of money these days,” as they said to Tubridy.

The song excited the media worldwide, including CNBC, Canada’s national broadcaster. It was, however, bettered in that year’s Christmas charts by a single from The X Factor.

The joke wouldn’t have been lost on the Rubberbandits. When they were asked during an impromptu appearance at Leinster House about the music TV competition that was vying with them at the top of the charts, they feigned (or possibly not) ignorance.

“People keep talking about The X Factor and we’ve never heard of it. We don’t know nothing about it. We thought we saw it once, but it might have been that One Foot in the Grave,” they said.

HIDDEN IDENTITIES

The duo, Blindboy Boat Club and Mr Chrome (who are joined sometimes by Willie O’DJ) sprang out of Limerick. They attended Ardscoil Rís secondary school in the city.

“Blindboy was well-behaved going to school, in fairness to him, but he always had a wicked sense of humour,” says a former teacher.

“You could have great craic with him. I remember, one day, he came into the class. He was in first year, and he’d a big scratch on his face. He looked like something out of Zorro. I asked him, ‘What happened your face?’ ‘Oh, my kitten scratched me.’ He was mad.”

The Rubberbandits have studiously protected their off-stage identities, using plastic bags to cover their faces during live gigs and on shows like The Republic of Telly. The bags stay on for their latest ‘musical’, Continental Fistfight, a show which was first seen in the UK and is now touring to various venues in Ireland.

IMPRESSIVE COLLABORATORS

Their collaborators include Declan Lowney, the Father Ted director, who directed a series of their shorts on Channel 4, and Russell Brand.

On Brand’s web series, The Trews, Blindboy and Brand, the comedian-cum-agitator, chewed the fat about the notion of time. Their conclusions come as good news to the work-shy.

“Our understanding of time, as the beginning and the end, is our generation’s flat-Earth theory, because if you put yourself back into the 13th century, the notion of the Earth being round is insane. ‘What do you mean it’s round? People would fall off. It can’t be round.’ They didn’t understand gravity as a force. But now we look back: ‘Yes the world is round’. It makes lots of sense, but not back then. That’s the same now. We need to understand time in particular,” said Blindboy.

“Right, there’s no such bloody thing as time,” bellowed Brand to the camera.

“No, there isn’t,” said Blindboy.

“What are we worrying about? Say you’re late for school or work,” pondered Brand. “There ain’t no such thing as work, because time ain’t even a concept.”

“That’s true,” said Blindboy. “Take the rest of the day off. And, by the way, your mother is also an illusion and so is your desk.”

BLINDBOY BOAT CLUB'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT

Why do you conceal your identity?

Getting off with girlS, pure and simple. We live in a hyperrealist late-capitalist society. Commodity fetishism is such that women are sexually attracted to the idea of shopping. We’ve turned our heads into shopping.

It must be hot under those plastic bags. How do you cope?

We continually imagine that we are in Malta or Corfu in June to normalise any heat.

Who are your influences?

Elkie Brooks.

Can you explain what your musical, Continental Fistfight, is about?

It’s an opera from the point of view of two swans who’ve been forced to stand on hotplates for the entertainment of a Corkman. It’s about Michael Collins.

Can you give an example of a recent funny thing you’ve seen in Limerick?

I saw a hipster dressed like a hobo giving money to a hobo dressed like a hipster.

What is your favourite thing about Ireland?

At the moment, I can’t think of any positives. It’s a very sad place. My generation have had nearly 10 years of their lives taken from them in their prime.

Who is the greatest person to come out of Limerick?

William Brooke O’Shaughnessy. He introduced western medicine to the therapeutic use of cannabis and also invented electrolyte salt therapy (eg Dioralyte). The latter has saved countless lives in Third World countries. He’s a legend to end all legs.

Why do you think certain people were so upset about the portrayal of Limerick in Angela’s Ashes?

The people who were pissed off about that are people who were sickened that they didn’t make a load of money off a memoir. Pure Irish begrudgery — that’s all.

Can you remember the last thing that made you angry?

When my Uncle Flaps boiled a load of vinegar in the kettle so that the whole house would have sore eyes.

Can you remember the last thing that made you laugh?

I seen Marty Whelan in the Aldi car park on his hands and knees looking for a can of deodorant that fell under someone else’s car.

What’s the most unusual crowd you’ve played to?

Duleek, 2009 – biggest shower of gowls we’ve ever played for in our entire lives.

You have met and worked with Russell Brand — what struck you most about him?

He’s just under 4 feet tall in real life and is around 70 years old.

  • The tour of the Rubberbandits’ Continental Fistfight continues at venues, including: Galway Townhall Theatre, May 3; Limerick Lime Tree Theatre, May 23; at The Everyman, Cork, May 31; Kilkenny Set Theatre, June 20. therubberbandits.com

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