ADRIAN RUSSELL: RTÉ cast in the form of their lives

After the trigger word ‘Saipan’ was alluded to, Keane quickly and clinically rattled through the shortcomings of half of Capello’s squad.

George Costanza: What about being a sports commentator? You know how I always make those witty comments during a game?

Jerry Seinfeld: You do make good comments.

George: So?

Jerry: Well, they generally give those jobs to ex-ballplayers and people, you know, in broadcasting.

George: (Pause) Well that’s really not fair.

Jerry: I know.

So this morning, after two days spent idly filling in wall charts and reviewing online betting accounts in the absence of any real action we’re back in business.

Like this column – an operation of such weighty intelligence which needs seasonal fallowness to allow genius to bloom once more – so too the World Cup requires to lay down by its bedside the spittle-specked vuvuzela for one or two days.

The tournament rest period is two days deaf to the sweet symphony of top-class international football – but so too, 48 hours rest from the blackboard-scraping racket of the inevitable punditry and commentary.

I spent the last World Cup rest period (I may have mentioned I was in Germany in ‘06, before) tucked in a sleeping bag on my rented palette, in a large wigwam in Dortmund. You realise the tournament is run by cowboys, now you know there’s wigwams for the injuns too.

There was plenty of other fans exhausted by two weeks of inter-railing from host city to wrong city and back again. We could buy plastic cups of beer for a euro or two in another communal ‘teepee’ and they re-played Germany’s games on a big screen during which the staff were happy to translate exactly what Gunter Netzer was saying. I missed Gilesy even then.

But never before in our natural history have so many men talked so much shite and in so many different revolving studios than this tournament. If England fans are searching their souls for the sin that brought upon their heads that inexplicable Lampard non-goal, let’s not look further then the jug-eared, pun-loving gurner, Gary Lineker.

Clarence Seedorf has been drafted in to represent the Dutch perspective on the BBC. He talks eloquently about interesting technical considerations – with an unashamed passion for the details – in stark contrast to the Bash Street Kids mentality of the MOTD sofa.

Shearer almost sniggers from the back when one of the ‘show-offs’ actually knows the name of a player who doesn’t play in the Premier League.

Without sounding like the ever-parochial Lineker, on the other hand, RTÉ’s cast have excelled – in entertainment at least. They say satire died the day Henry Kissinger won a Nobel Peace Prize. So too parody – and the excellent Après Match – was surely rendered redundant when Billo, Giles, Dunphy and Brady chuckled (well, Chippy almost smiled) over a reference to being ‘a Brazilian outside the box’.

This superannuated lot are in the best form of their lives. Having that trio bicker, settle scores and lob in the odd hand grenade while trying to remain relatively polite and civilised in front of the foreign guests – Ossie and Didi – is TV gold. So too of course, is Roy Keane – friend of the panel. This week we watched in giddy horror as yet another Sky Sports News reporter was eviscerated by the Corkman.

Keane scolded the journalist for presuming to know what went on inside the England camp, refused to draw any parallels with that mess and Ireland’s in 2002. After the trigger word ‘Saipan’ was alluded to, Keane quickly and clinically rattled through the shortcomings of half of Capello’s squad.

New York’s king of comedy Jerry Seinfeld got his chance to do better than TV experts this week too when he sat into the Citifield gantry for a 4 1/2 inning guest appearance with his hero Keith Hernandez during the Mets’ 5-0 win over the Tigers.

Seinfeld – or Seinfield if you’re Pat Kenny and the world’s richest funny man is standing behind you – included a Superman reference in every episode of his record-breaking sitcom in the 90s. But he also laced the scripts with allusions to his beloved baseball side.

He’s a regular caller to a popular fans phone call-in show on a small radio station in the city’s boroughs where he talks at length about the starting pitcher’s weak arm or the hot dogs in the new stadium – the new stadium, in which he bought a private box.

I happened to be watching Seinfeld’s debut in the gantry with the game’s greats. I waited for him to revert to his 80s comedy routine: hey, what’s up with crackerjack? There’s no cracker... and there’s no jack! But he was actually good.

Amongst other things, he joked about a recent run-in with a drunk Lady Gaga – after she gestured obscenely at the crowd while wearing little but a Yankees jersey and was then moved to Seinfeld’s vacant private area.

A mere quarrel over spilt prawn sandwiches, as Lineker would no doubt say.

And now, let’s join your match commentators as we return to the action.

Adrian.russell@examiner.ie Twitter: @adrianrussell


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