Look Out! Irish Comedy Tour Heading This Way
Did you ever sit around with your Irish-American friends, cracking each other up with stories from your childhood? The crazy relatives. The wise-cracking relatives. The relatives who never met a mixed drink they didn’t like.
Pat Godwin and Derek Richards did, and even though they grew up in different Irish Catholic neighborhoods—Godwin in Wilkes-Barre, Richards in Detroit—they found they lived on common ground. “We all realized we had relatives with drinking problems—I know, go figure, who saw that coming?” quips Richards. “The funniest thing though was when we all realized we had mug shots. We’d all been arrested at some point. It was not like we’d ever hijacked an armored car, but we’d all been in the situation where we’d had too much booze with the wrong people.”
Then, they took this conversation on the road.
Godwin (you may remember him as the song parodist from the John DeBella Morning Zoo and later the Howard Stern radio shows) and Richards, along with Jim Paquette and Mike McCarthy are the comics that make up The Irish Comedy Tour (‘they’re Irish, they’re American, and they’re not holding back”). Godwin, Richards, and Paquette will be bringing it to the Sellersville Theatre on Sunday, October 25.
The four met on the comedy circuit, and one thing led to another. Listen to Richards and see if any of this sounds familiar:
“We were sharing stories over some Jameson and some beer and we started noticing a common thread in personal backgrounds. And I thought, can we take what we talk and joke about here and bring it to stage?”
They could. The Irish Comedy Tour started in 2005 as a one-off St, Paddy’s Day thing. This year, it’s taking its nose-bashing, (you have to check out their website to get that one) Irish-pubby sense of humor from Michigan to Key West. “It’s kind of like an Irish pub and comedy show that you put in a food processor,” says Richards, who was a semi-finalist in Comedy Central’s Open Mic Fight.
Paquette and Godwin are both musicians as well, so there are some tunes in that comedy Cuisinart too. “Pat does a hilarious song about the lack of birth control in the Irish community called ’13 Kids and Counting.’ He also does a version of ‘Black Velvet Band,’ with a comedic twist,” Richards says. (Few songs deserve it more.)
If you saw “Last Comic Standing,” you saw judge and “Cheers” alumn John Ratzenberger nearly swallow his mustache when contestant Godwin started singing that pre-K favorite, “Bingo (was His Name-O)” as Bono (“this is for all the dogs in shelters!”). “That was funny,” Ratzenberger said as Godwin left the stage.
In fact, Godwin started as a musician before he turned to stand-up and acting. “I was playing down at Smokey Joe’s at Penn and it was pretty clear what they wanted was cover songs and things they could sing to. But I was talking in between the songs, satirizing rock and roll stars and singing funny stuff, and that turned into my act. [Philadelphia comedian] Todd Glass saw me and suggested I do an open mike and that’s how I was hired to do the DeBella show.”
When the Morning Zoo was shuttered, Godwin turned to the guy who was to blame, Howard Stern, who hired him to churn out topical song parodies for his pre-satellite radio morning show. “I left there and moved to LA,” Godwin says. “I didn’t do any more songs. I had a few failed pilots, knocked around LA with my girlfriend at the time, wasn’t successful at much of anything. I failed in LA once as an actor at 18, then as a songwriter at 26, then again as a comedian. It’s LA 3, Pat Godwin, zero.”
But now he’s on the Irish Comedy Tour, and things couldn’t be better. Both he and Richards say this is the most fun they have all year. They get to reach deep back into their childhoods and bring up the funniest bits, even the ones that weren’t funny at the time.
“For me,” says Richards, “a lot of it is the sense of humor I grew up with. My grandfather was my biggest comedy influence. Growing up, down in the basement in my mother and father’s house, myself and my brother would listen to Dad and Grandpa trade the most wrong jokes ever. (Even though it’s an adult show, we won’t be doing any of those.) As long as we never told our mother and grandmother, we could stay down there and listen.”
Godwin, who is a descendant of the writer Mary Shelley (“Frankenstein”), grew up with “the drinking thing.”
“I mind my Ps and Qs with alcohol, because I’ve seen a lot of smart, creative people ruin their lives,” he says. “On the road I drive for those two wackos so they can tear it up after the show.” But he’s found a way to give it a comic spin. “I wrote a song called, ‘Switch to Beer,’ about the way some Irish people handle their drinking problems—putting down the whiskey and switching to beer. It came from seeing the Irish actor Richard Harris in the Bahamas, completely bombed, after he’d been on the Letterman show a week before talking about how he’d solved his hard drinking problem. I went up to him at the roulette table where he was completely trashed and I asked him about it. He said he stopped drinking the hard stuff. He switched to beer.”
So, by now you’ve figured out that the Irish Comedy Tour isn’t the place to take the kiddies. “This sense of humor is part of our upbringing, which might be a little off-color and politically incorrect, but it’s not dirty,” says Richards. “It’s all in good taste.”
And, he says, it might remind you of sitting around with your pals at a pub, sharing a frosty one and some memories. “People come up to us after the show, even people right from Ireland, and tell us this is everything they talk about,” he says. “It’s a fun party atmosphere. It’s a party—that’s the best way to describe it.”