Father Ted star and stand-up comedian Ardal O’Hanlon spoke to comedy correspondent Joe Gardner about theatre, birthdays and, of course, his new show, coming to the That’s Fife Comedy Festival…
Hi Ardal, thanks for talking to The Wee Review. First of all, how was your time at the Glasgow Comedy Festival?
I enjoyed it. I always look forward to Glasgow, but with a certain amount of trepidation, for no good reason other than it is Glasgow and the reputation that comes with it. You’ve got to be at your best for Glasgow. Susie McCabe came on before me and she was great. It was a really good show, really enjoyable.
How did you find the King’s Theatre as a venue?
It’s an amazing venue. I’m always daunted by the size of these venues. I was extra nervous because I was working on a new show; it’s just important to get the jokes out in the right order!
So you’re heading to Dunfermline for the That’s Fife Comedy Festival. Are you looking forward to gigging somewhere new?
I’ve gigged in other parts of Fife, but never Dunfermline. People from Dunfermline may have seen me before but I’ve never seen them. I’ve been at this new show for three years so I like to do the festivals and the small clubs, just dive right in there and try the new stuff out.
What is this tour about? What will you be discussing in it?
Well, that’s a hard question. I think the subject is me, and everything that’s on my mind. It’s quite general and covers a lot of ground. It’s quite gaggy. I’ve turned 50 this year, a landmark whether you want to recognise it or not. I’m not making a big deal of it. It’s also your reaction to the world: your family, your kids, dealing with nonsense and everything in your life.
What comedians right now do you enjoy watching?
A huge cross section of people. I saw a great guy the other day, Darren Walsh. I always crave novelty and things that I don’t do. There’s lots of great people who do puns like Milton Jones. I love a lot of American observational comics as well. Oh, and also Reggie Watts; because he’s from a totally different area [of comedy] than I am.
Of course, most people know you as Father Dougal from Father Ted, what was it like being a part of such a popular comedy series?
I owe it a lot. I enjoyed it hugely. I think coming from stand-up and doing a lot of writing myself, I’ve always relished working in a TV studio, and theatres actually. They are such great social environments. I loved the social aspect of Father Ted. Although, I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve done since then.
You were nominated for an Olivier award back in 2013 for The Weir. Is theatre something you’d like to do some more of?
Yeah, I love the variety of it but stand-up is the bread and butter of it all. I didn’t do my first play until I was into my thirties, but once I got a taste of it, I loved it. Working with really good people can help your stand-up. You learn about stagecraft and technical stuff so you’re always exposed to new experiences which can only help your material.
I read recently you have filmed a pilot with Sarah Hadland for a new ITV comedy; what was it like to work with her?
It was great. She’s brilliant. It’s a potentially brilliant show. It’s a really funny show, it was a really great experience. It’s a family sitcom but not very traditional. It’s inspired by the National Lampoon films…
Finally, as a young comedian myself, what advice would you give to any young comics starting out?
My main advice would be don’t take any advice from me. No, well, everyone is different, but always be yourself. When you start out, I think the temptation is to copy your heroes. The sooner you find your own voice and draw from your own life, and the truth, I don’t think you can go too wrong.