Ref NoBSUCA/JP/1/2/13
CollectionJohn Pidgeon Collection
TitleArdal O'Hanlon interviewed for 'Talking Comedy'
Name of creatorPidgeon, John, 1947-2016
Duration1 hr. 25 min. 11 sec.
Extent1 sound cassette (DAT 124)
1 audio file Broadcast WAVE Format
DescriptionArdal O'Hanlon interviewed by John Pidgeon at The Sound Company, London, for 'Talking Comedy', a BBC Radio 2 programme in which comedians talk about the people that make them laugh. This is the unedited interview, not the programme as broadcast.

Summary: [00:08] Recording starts, general chat between John Pidgeon [JP] and Ardal O’Hanlon [AOH]; Dave Allen won’t allow any clips of himself to be used, [00:52] Alan Davies told JP that Dave Allen gave him some influential advice, and JP did try to get permission without success.
[03:15] JP asks AOH what first made him laugh. [3:26] Laurel & Hardy, it was the one thing his household was allowed to watch on TV on Saturday mornings.
[04:29] AOH says that he didn’t watch any comedy since Laurel & Hardy as a child until he saw The Young Ones, and says that he was a latecomer to comedy and doesn’t have a library of comedy.[05:20] AOH’s rule is to never slag off a comic until you’ve seen them live, because that’s the true test.
[05:26] In later years it was people like Denis Leary and Bill Hicks, brave exciting dangerous American comics, which while the polar opposite to AOH’s material, still possessed energy and scope.
[05:50 AOH was then influenced by and admired British comics like Eddie Izzard, Harry Hill, Jack Dee, and Irish comedians like Sean Hughes.
[06:13] With a couple of friends, AOH set up the Comedy Centre Dublin, great platform for new Irish comics which still exists, and he admits he was a complete novice. [06:45] Going to the Edinburgh Festival a few years later informed him more of what comedy was, he said it was exciting to watch Sean Hughes perform.
[07:19] AOH says none of his comedy favourites remain favourites for long. The Young Ones for example was a huge inspiration at the time. [07:55] Around the same time, he watched Steve Martin movies, [08:04] after that he’s start seeking out videos of Steve Martin live or Richard Pryor live.
[08:40] He has tremendous admiration for free-wheeling comedians like Eddie Izzard, Phil Kay and Dylan Moran, despite someone who himself doesn’t stray from the written word. [08:56] JP mentions Jo Brand talking about Billy Connolly.
[09:30] AOH talks about how much he loves Harry Hill’s craft, and he mentions how some people seem to have a problem with the idea of a comedian who isn’t spontaneous, but says that Harry Hill’s material will stand the test of time.
[10:14] AOH says all the best comedians have a structure and says it’s wonderful when comedians depart from the script, their set. [10:47] JP talks about Steve Martin losing his train of thought and going through his set to retrace where he was, and revealing the bones of the act. [11:23] AOH talks about a tape where Steve Martin comes on and has no content for about 50 minutes because of how big a star he’s become.
[11:51] AOH says that the Scottish comedian Phil Kay does the same thing to some degree. [12:37] JP asks what AOH thinks whenever he sees a new comic. [13:38] AOH says whenever he sees a new comedian like Phil Kay that he wants to give up. [14:20] AOH says that anyone in any field probably feels the same way, and uses Damon Hill’s car as an example.
[14:35] AOH says when he went to the Edinburgh Festival it was a key moment for him [14:57] AOH talks about seeing Denis Leary and having his mind blown by his material, only to realise later that Denis Leary’s material was just a superficial version of what Bill Hicks was doing.
[15:59] About five years after seeing Denis Leary, he saw Bill Hicks live, and describes him as having the zeal of a preacher, and touches on some pertinent issues, particularly regarding masculinity. [17:18] JP talks about Bill Hicks.
[18:22] JP says Bill Hicks and Richard Pryor gain the trust of the audience, you let them take you to dark or unexpected places. [20:00] AOH says Bill Hicks follows in the tradition of Lenny Bruce and others. [20:20] AOH talks about the way Bill Hicks has a go at his own contemporaries like Jay Leno or David Letterman, and says that if you know anything about Bill Hicks you’ll know it wasn’t sour grapes and was due to integrity and unwillingness to compromise.
[20:50] JP asks about how AOH came across Lenny Bruce, and whether he had the same initial opinion of Lenny Bruce as him, that being that the material wasn’t very funny. [21:46] AOH talks about seeing the Dustin Hoffman movie Lenny, read the book about him, [22:09] and talks about Ray Hanna doing a one-man show about Lenny Bruce.
[23:38] JP comments on how many of the comedians AOH has come across are American, include Jackie Mason and George Carlin. [25:23] AOH says Jackie Mason is superb, and has a lovely rhythm and bemused countenance. [27:30] JP asks about George Carlin, and AOH says that he can’t remember anything about the content but just remembers the experience of loving it.
[28:15] We tend to know more about American comedians like Robin Williams, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, and Steve Martin because of video tapes [28:25] and it was only when he started going to live gigs that he became aware of the likes of Eddie Izzard, Jack Dee, and Sean Hughes. [28:56] AOH recalls seeing Michael Redmond on Saturday Night Live [29:13] and also remembers seeing Jo Brand live.
[29:44] JP asks about Eddie Izzard, AOH says he went to Edinburgh the two other members his sketch trio at the time sketch trio Mr Trellis, and says that not only was Eddie Izzard a great comedian but also a great business man, and he took AOH under his wing and gave him a chance to perform at his venue.
[33:20] AOH says another reason that he likes Eddie Izzard is because he has always been drawn to the surreal, giving Reeves and Mortimer as another example [33:38] AOH says he has no real time for topical humour or overt political satire, [33:57] and says that Reeves and Mortimer end up being more subversive by saying everything is ridiculous. [35:00] JP brings up Jack Dee, and AOH talks about his clear-cut image and well-sculpted gags.
[37:04] AOH brings up Monty Python and Peter Cook & Dudley Moore. [38:21] AOH talks about how he’s quite scared being overly influenced by others or seen to be influenced by anybody else, [38:50] AOH says that he stumbled upon Monty Python and Peter Cook & Dudley Moore, particularly Derek & Clive, and loves their use of language.
[40:15] JP asks if anyone yells catchphrases from Father Ted at him in the street, in response to him mentioning that he was never into catchphrase comedy when he was younger.
[41:07] JP talks about being in America with “the guy from 3rd Rock From The Sun” and said that three people approached him at the airport.
[42:20] AOH says at the top end of American culture there’s so much wonderful stuff, like Seinfeld, Larry Sanders, and The Simpsons. [43:47] JP asks about Norm Macdonald.
[46:09] AOH says it’s amazing when you find a unique voice like Eddie Izzard and says there’s a guy in Ireland who is similar called Kevin McAleer. [46:34] JP talks about Richard Cook giving him the Kilkenny programme and admitting that there’s so many Irish comedians that he’s never heard of. [46:50] AOH tells JP about some new Irish comedians including Jason Byrne, Tommy Tiernan and Patrick McDonnell.
[47:35] AOH talks about seeing the Pink Panther movies as a child because his father liked them, and says that while he doesn’t like them as much now, he still regards Peter Sellers as an influence. [48:16] He mentions the Goon Show scripts, and says he didn’t like Spike Milligan that much, and says that he loves the melancholy quality of Peter Sellers.
[49:42] JP asks about Alan Partridge.
[51:21-51:52] Bill Hicks
[52:56-53:24] Lenny Bruce
[56:31-57:08] Sean Hughes
[59:35-01:00:15] Monty Python
[01:01:35-01:02:30] Richard Pryor
[01:04:03-01:04:53] Steve Coogan as Alan Partridge
[01:05:29-01:05:54] Jack Dee
[01:09:49-01:10:10] Steven Wright
[01:11:05-01:11:44] Eddie Izzard
[01:12:53-01:13:45] Peter Sellers (footage of Peter Cook)
[01:15:07-01:15:50] George Carlin, AOH mentions Bob Newhart
[01:17:35-01:18:06] Jackie Mason
[01:18:32] JP brings up Spinal Tap, and asks AOH to omit it from his choices because two other people have brought it up in previous shows in a row.
[01:19:39] Recording the links
[01:24:53] Recording ends
NotesLPCM wave 16 bit 44.1kHz. Digital Audio Tape (DAT) captured using a PC running Windows; SPDIF connection via RME PCI card. Digitisation engineer Adrian Finn, Greatbear analogue & digital media ltd.
CategoryAudio recordings
Access conditionsThis recording is available for consultation at the University of Kent's Special Collections & Archives reading room, Templeman Library, University of Kent, Canterbury, CT2 7NU for study/research purposes only. Access to audio-visual recordings is through digital listening copies. The University of Kent acknowledges the intellectual property rights of those named as contributors in this recording and the rights of those not identified.
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