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A Celebration of Father Ted with Joe Rooney

L-R: David Court, Joe Rooney, Tara Court.

A Celebration of Father Ted with Joe Rooney at The Albany Theatre Sunday 16 April.

Review by David Court.

It may be 25 years since Father Ted first aired on Channel 4 - with lead star Dermot Morgan sadly dying the day after filming the final episode – but the delightfully silly tale of three exiled Catholic priests still stands up today as one of the greatest comedy series of all time.

One episode introduced the wayward priest Father Damien “Damo” Lennon, a bequiffed cleric who leads the feckless Father Dougal astray. Played by Joe Rooney, it’s a role that – despite his appearing in a vast array of other shows – this singer/songwriter and comedian is best known for, so the 25th anniversary of “Father Ted” is a timely moment to revisit this classic TV series.

Sunday Evening on the 16th of April saw The Albany Theatre hosting “A Celebration of Father Ted with Joe Rooney”, part of a nationwide tour taking place in 2023.

After a brief introduction from our dog-collared host, the evening kicked off with a showing of the episode featuring Joe – “The Old Grey Whistle Theft.” The fourth episode from series two follows the grand larceny of a groundskeeper’s whistle – an instrument that would feature heavily throughout the evening. A quiz followed, in which a frighteningly encyclopedic knowledge of the series determined the worthy winners.

I’m no fan of audience interaction during comedy shows (as Ben Elton once said, it’s typically a lazy fallback for a comedian – “Would I ask you to come to my work and polish my lathe?”) but here it was used to great effect in a Lovely Lady competition in which three audience members (including my all-too eager wife and a baffled chap) were pitted against each other in complex rounds involving walking, laughing and making sandwiches.

My wife won, the prize being a shiny gold whistle containing Rooney’s spittle (“Don’t blow it; I might be infectious”).

Most of the evening saw Rooney perform his stand-up material, a mixture of jokes and songs. He’s a natural joke and storyteller, erring slightly on the risqué but never offensive. His musical output was the highlight of the night, a selection of uncanny impersonations featuring Johnny Cash, David Bowie, and Christy Moore.

All in all, highly recommended. A fun evening packed full of comedy and a charming way to celebrate one of the best television series to ever grace our screens, and Rooney has a wonderful way of working a crowd. It’s not every evening that sees you on your feet and dancing along to a video of religious leaders having a good aul’ boogie.

Discover what other shows are coming up at the Albany Theatre:


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