by Benjamin Riley & Miles Heffernan
DAVID O’Doherty had come straight from the airport when he spoke to the Star Observer.
“My hope for tonight is that Doctor Showbiz will pull me through with the adrenaline of doing a show in front of 2000 people, so that will beat the lag.”
The Dublin-born comedian is once again in Australia, with a new show at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. He explained he had to submit a name for the show months in advance, and decided on something to live up to. David O’Doherty Will Try to Fix Everything promises an hour of O’Doherty’s trademark dry wit and absurd musical interludes.
All set for three weeks at the Forum Theatre, O’Doherty offered his take on the iconic Melbourne venue.
“I think if it were to have a ghost it would be the most camp ghost there has ever been,” he said.
“I heard the legend of it is that some evangelical guy ran it for a while and he knocked the dicks off all the statues. All those statues are missing their wangers. Apparently — and this is the best part — there’s a cardboard box somewhere in the basement full of statue dicks. It’s like Indiana Jones.”
As soon as the conversation turned to gay issues, O’Doherty revealed a surprising interest in his own country’s ongoing fight for equality.
“It’s a really exciting time for gay rights in Ireland because the equality (civil partnership) legislation has come through, and now there’s going to be a gay marriage referendum next year,” he said.
“It’s a really interesting time because there’s been a revolution in the last 20 years. It took us 800 years to get rid of Britain, and then we basically gave it to the Catholic Church, who ran it for 80 years, and then we actually gave it to a bunch of businessmen who managed to ruin it in 15 years.
“But there is just a feeling of change. You’ve still got some of the conservative old guard, and some of them are just old farts and you’re going to have to wait for them to pop their clogs, basically. But it’s an exciting time.”
O’Doherty expressed a fondness for a particular gay rights activist and fellow countryman, Rory O’Neill, better known by his stage name: Panti. Earlier this year O’Neill was involved in a high-profile incident on a television program of Irish national broadcaster RTE, in which he accused a number of specific Irish journalists of homophobia.
RTE paid a substantial sum of public money to the journalists named by O’Neil, prompting national outrage and propelling the public conversation about gay rights into the national consciousness.
Just weeks after the incident O’Neil, as Panti, gave a public speech in response to the events. A video of the speech went viral online, prompting one respected Irish writer to call it “the most eloquent Irish speech” in almost 200 years.
“In school, Ireland’s always been about these speeches, mostly to do with getting rid of the Brits, and you have to learn them in school and you have to read them and all that. And that is now up there, and there’s talk of it going onto curriculums and everything,” O’Doherty explained.
“What’s interesting about Rory — Miss Panti — is that grannies love him. Everyone loves him.”
Despite Ireland’s famous Catholic conservatism around gay rights, O’Doherty said when it comes to everyday irish people, their attitudes to issues like same-sex marriage we’re very straightforward:
“The vast majority of people, and I’m very confident of this, could not give two fucks.”
David O’Doherty Will Try to Fix Everything is on at the Forum Theatre as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival until 20 April. Visit www.comedyfestival.com.au for bookings and more information.