Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Genius in Our Midst - Time to Acknowledge Super Mario

Guth an phobailAn Spailpín Fánach was disappointed to read a rather sniffy profile of Mario Rosenstock, eminence grise behind the Gift Grub comedy sketches on the Ian Dempsey Breakfast Show on Today FM. For An Spailpín’s dollar, Rosenstock is the most inspired and reliable comedian we have produced in Ireland for quite some time, and deserves to be acknowledged as such.

This acknowledgement will be some time coming from the Phoenix. As well as a biographical profile of Rosenstock - that sounded dreadfully familiar to one written by Stephen Price in the Sunday Times Culture Section a week or two ago - the Phoenix sniffed at Rosenstock for “lack of bite” and a vulgar need to try and turn a few bob from the gig.

To condemn a comedian for lack of bite, by which is meant a lack of a political viewpoint, seems rather beside the point to An Spailpín’s old grey head. Surely it’s the same as chastising Francis Fukuyama was not writing more zingers in his copy? I would like to think that if some comedian did possess the sort of political insight that is apparently currently desirable in a comedian, he or she would hang up their microphone, put away the Peter Cook DVDs and maybe run for election, so the nation could benefit. Wouldn’t it benefit them that much better than trying to do funny voices in the early morning rush hour?

Not that there isn’t more to Rosenstock than the funny voices, although his gift for mimicry is quite stunning, just as the late Dermot Morgan’s was. Anyone that thinks that writing a Bertie Ahern parody version of Lily Allen’s LDN, as Rosenstock has recently done, ought to take out their pencil and paper and send their efforts to me via email, and we’ll see how easy it is then.

It’s not just that Rosenstock is supremely gifted; it’s that he’s supremely gifted five days a week, just like any other working slob. This is not enough for the Phoenix, which turns up a haughty snout at the notion that “Rosenstock has shown himself to be all too willing to flog his routine on the corporate circuit.”

The ads in this week’s Phoenix, reading from the back: Audi A4 limited edition, Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Day Sale, Michel Lynch: The Bordeaux Collection, a chartered surveyor, a private stockbroker, Halton Kelly Independent Property Services, Goodbody Stockbrokers – not a lot there for Jem Casey, the Workman’s Friend, to rhapsodise, I think. Pot, kettle; kettle, pot.

As with Dermot Morgan and Scrap Saturday, we will only miss Rosenstock when he is gone. Just how far back the chasing pack are can be seen by a visit to The Panel, RTÉ’s worse than appalling answer to Have I Got News for You. But please, don’t watch too long, or else you will surely lose all will to live and hope for the future. Rosenstock is operating at a completely different level, and he should be acknowledged as such.

An Spailpín’s own favourite comic? Why, Tommy Cooper, of course. Different class.

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