Tuesday, March 22, 2011


By James Karas

Do you have a dark secret or a private pleasure that you do not want your friends to know about? I don’t mean innocuous stuff like a toe fetish or the habit of tying up your husband to the bedpost and whipping him because he did not shovel the snow. I mean something serious such as liking low humour, jokes about farting and other bodily functions?

If you do, you have come to the right place for advice on where to satiate your secret pleasure and how to hide it while you are splitting your sides laughing.

One place to get your dose of laughter à la low humour (notice the use of French as a camouflage) is Brendan O’Carroll’s Good Mourning Mrs. Brown which is now playing at the Princess of Wales Theatuh – yes, always say theatuh, otherwise people might think you are going to some stupid movie!
“Did daddy come late?”
“That’s none of your fecking business!”

Moving right along, when your friends ask what you are seeing at the theatuh you will give them the title of the play and make sure they get the pun and that they are aware that O’Carroll is a great comic who wrote, directs and stars in the play about a crazy, foul-mouthed, irascible and irrepressible Irish widow who has a totally wacky family.

Abraham invented the snip. And those forty days and forty nights of rain that is supposed to be Noah’s flood. In Ireland, it’s called summer.

What is the plot on which Mrs. Brown’s low humour is hung? Well, there are half a dozen plots. The title refers to having Grandad (Dermot O’Neill) put in a coffin so he can enjoy his own funeral before he dies. “Am I dying?” he asks. “Not until Friday” he is told. And you know what he will do when they stick a rectal thermometer up his derriere – he will sit on it of course.

There is the plot about gay son Rory (Rory Cowan) and his partner Dino (Gary Hollywood) and yes there will be jokes about gays.

Son Dermot (Paddy Houlihan) is planning a heist with his friend Buster (Danny O’Carroll) so he can raise funds to purchase a house for his wife Maria (Fiona O’Carroll) who is pregnant with twins or is it triplets.

Are you losing interest in the plot strands? Just memorize a couple so your friends won’t think you went to see a series of jokes and a plot that is not all that important. You do this for friends who think that watching a fist fight on ice qualifies as a sport and that watching a game of golf) is not incontrovertible evidence that they are brain dead.

To friends who have actually been to the theatre and know that The Phantom of the Opera is NOT an opera you will need a different approach. You will express some complaints about the production; you will tell them that you do not like microphones, especially very loud microphones in the theatre. You are a purist after all. You will find the set less than satisfactory and you will point out that Rory Cowan is too fond of stepping out of character for no good reason. The laughter that this provoked wore off pretty quickly.

Finally you will lean back and tell your friends that O’Carroll’s humour is Aristophanic without the concomitant political minutiae of fifth century Athens. Who cares if that is true or not: your friend will be impressed without having a clue what you are talking about.
If you don’t find that all of O’Carroll’s humour makes you bend over with laughter, you will enjoy the roars of the rest of the audience. You will feel vindicated in your choice of play – can all those people be wrong. Do they also have whips under their pillows? Do they have chains in their night tables?

Better not ask and if you like the type of humour O’Carroll provides just go and enjoy it.
Good Mourning Mrs. Brown by Brendan O’Carroll continues until March 19, 2011 at the Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St, West, Toronto, Ontario. www.mirvish.com

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