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An Actual Conversation on YouTube – comedy sketch

At our monthly Brownbread Mixtape show, I would regularly write radio style sketches for our resident sketch troupe. This was a very early one that i am still very proud of, where I reimagined and documented an actual series of comments from a real YouTube video as an actual interactive conversation. Enjoy knobhats!

Colouring pencils

I went through a phase of sketching and drawing quite a lot from around 2000 to 2003. Painting and drawing were never a creative pursuit I considered myself particularly adept at, which actually meant it felt very freeing to simply doodle and paint without any consideration of an audience or indeed expectation. I have very fond memories of this time and the drawing above feels representative of some of the earliest stuff I was drawing.

The Brownbread Mixtape album – the early years

We record every single Brownbread Mixtape, and we have managed to capture some truly magical moments down the years from that room. Nowadays it is easier to share things digitally (even though we have yet to truly share even a fraction of our enormous library of recordings) but back in the day we decided to go relatively old school and create a limited run of CDs of some of those early performances that we could raffle off at our live shows. We enlisted help from New York filmmaker and graphic designer David Bagnall to create unique and supremely cool cover art, and then we pieced together some of our favourite artists from the first run of shows that gave a good snapshot of the music, spoken word and sketch comedy we were showcasing every month. Manyof these artists have gone on to greater things since, which is so briliant to see, but here they are in the cosy surroundings of the Parlour Bar upstairs in The Stag’s Head pub. The result is a moment in time, replete with all the ramblings and imperfections that come with a live performance, as well as the moments of utter magic that we were witness to. In recent years I decided to upload it to bandcamp so others could get a chance to hear the tracks too. There are even a few of my early poems and comedy sketches with The Brownbread Players on there, which have a certain charm to them too. Have a listen and let me know what you think – tell me about your favourite. Enjoy!

Skanger Man – An Irish parody of a Werner Herzog film

At my monthly Brownbread Mixtape show I would regularly write radio style comedy sketches to be performed by myself and our resident sketch troupe The Brownbread Players (Gus McDonagh, Eva Bartley and Sean McDonagh). I have been a huge Werner Herzog fan for many moons and something tickled me about trying to do one of his earnest and odd documentary style pieces about inner city Dublin. Gus also did a great Dublin accent and so I wrote it specifically with him in mind for the part. It started to flow pretty quickly as I wrote it, but then something wasn’t fully clicking. Suddenly the Joycean elements popped in my head and it came together really sharpy then. The closing monologue lifted from The Dead by James Joyce really elevated the piece from pure silly parody to something slightly more profound, just like a proper Herzog piece. It was one of the most odd and surprisingly popular sketches we ever did. The original live version can be seen here.

Enda Roche who ran the monthly Brownbread Mixtape show with me was studying audio engineering at the time at Windmill Lane, and decided to do a studio version of it as a project one semester, and so the studio version above was born. The sparse twangy guitar lends a lovely feel to it (and echoes the Herzog film soundtrack to Grizzly Man very nicely), and the sound effects of the chipper give it a nice documentary feel.

The sketch subsequently got incorporated into my award nominated Fringe show The Definitive View with Sneachta Ni Mhurchu, and a slight rewrite made it slightly softer and more empathetic to the skanger character. It had never fully sat right with me that he was an object of pure ridicule of the piece, and in the new version I made him more a victim of the harsh Irish government and society. In that show we had an ethereal piano piece to accompany it, and I felt it lifted the piece even further into a poignant piece about the forgotten faces on our streets.

It is still a piece of writing I am very proud of and it really proved to me that even the most obscure reference points can prove to be hugely popular if framed in a comedic setting, as the audience doesn’t need to know who Herzog is in this case, but if they do, it adds an additional layer. Plus I love doing Werner Herzog impersonations. I think it’s my true artistic calling in life.

Sketchbook: The Table of Ideas

 

I was sifting through an old series of sketchbooks I kept during my time living in New York and found some fun old doodles, ideas and unfinished concepts. This one, The Table of Ideas, was one that I’m no longer sure what I was trying to do with. I know that it was inspired by some very dense philosophical writings I had encountered in college by two gents who went by Horkheimer and Adorno. However none of the actual substance of the book formed part of this idea, but really just the colour scheme of the book it looks like. See for yourself (the actual book is a bot more orange looking).

 

Then the idea must have evolved somehow to become a working idea for artlick, a website I ran for fun with my good friends Dave and Jenn (more on that some other time). The idea clearly never left the sketchbook stage, possibly because I have no idea what the ultimate goal was – maybe a section of the site was going to be called this, and would be a place to spark conversations and ideas? You have to remember the internet back in 1999 / 2000 was a pretty clunky slow place, so we may have jettisoned this idea purely because messageboards and virtual guestbooks were the main way of interacting with a website, and that was well beyond our primitive web skills.

At some point the idea seems to have been conflated with other ones and reverted back to being The Dialectic of Enlightenment, but now by some new authors Bo Henstergaard and Ulf Hammarsten. I think this was some reference to a Swedish radio documentary I had heard about hemp farmers (strange I know!), and I loved the names of the people being interviewed, so I mucked around with their names to make them sound even more unusual, and then clearly made them the new authors of this seminal philosophical tome. That must have tickled me for some reason

 

At this point the idea had clearly spiralled in on itself and become some weird set of personal references and touchpoints, that mean almost nothing to me now several years later. Still though, I think the central concept of being able to visit a Table of Ideas, whatever that may be, is a nice one. Worth revisiting maybe.