The Irish Comedy Tour took over Sharp Theater Saturday night, kicking off the St. Patrick's Day celebrations early with Irish music, dirty jokes, festive clothing and a fiddle-playing leprechaun.
The tour, which was meant to take on the atmosphere of a Dublin pub, featured three Irish Americans and one bona fide Irishman celebrating, and at times ridiculing, the Irish culture and people.
Although an early video skit referenced cultural contributions of the Irish over the years – highlighting James Joyce, Peter O'Toole and U2 – the comedians spent most of their time making self-deprecating jokes about Irish stereotypes. McCarthy and comedian Derek Richards happily and repeatedly referenced these stereotypes in their acts – taking on everything from Catholicism to the Irish's alleged penchant for fighting, drinking and gambling.
"We're the only culture that embraces every single stereotype about us," Boston comedian Mike McCarthy proudly stated during his standup routine. "You can't offend Irish people."
McCarthy, who came out on stage dressed in a traditional Irish kilt, seemed to be right. According to a round of applause solicited by the performers at the beginning of the night, most of the audience members were of Irish descent themselves. And according to the laughter issuing from those same people throughout the night, they didn't mind the jokes.
"I thought they were funny, but sometimes you have to be Irish to know it's funny," Catherine Dipaolo of Tuxedo Park, N.Y. said after the show.
Ultimately, the Irish weren't the only group targeted throughout the two-hour show. The comedians, unconcerned with political correctness, took aim at Italians, Mexicans and even Floridians.
But risquÃ© jokes weren't all the Irish Comedy Tour had to offer. In between McCarthy and Richards' stand-up acts, Irishman Derrick Keane sang and played Irish songs on the guitar. Damon Leibert, dressed as a leprechaun, accompanied him on the fiddle. The songs, which ranged from the traditional Irish ballad "Finnegan's Wake" to Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl," had the audience singing and clapping along.
"Overall I thought the show was great. It was a nice way to kick off the St. Paddy's week," Linda Walsh of Kearny, N.J. said.
"It was very good, it was a lot of fun, we had a lot of laughs," said Sandra Bourne of the Hotsie Totsie Red Hats, the Glen Rock-based chapter of the women's society organization The Red Hats. A group of about 20 Hotsie Totsies attended the Irish Comedy Tour in their eponymous hats and took pictures with the performers after the show.
"We do an event a month, and one of our members said that this would be a lot of fun, and it was," Bourne said. "Normally it's just the ladies, but because it's Saturday night we opened it up to the gentlemen. A couple of husbands came along and we got a really good turnout."
One key element missing from the Tour's intended pub atmosphere, however, was the alcohol.
"Obviously it always helps if people got a little lubrication in them when they come out," comedian Derek Richards said after the show. "But it was great, man. It was a lot of fun, everyone was into it and we had a blast."