The Bilberry Goats bring their inimitable style of chaotic sketch comedy to Garter Lane, 8th to 10th October, with the Third Time Lucky World Tour. This will be the Goat’s third visit to the Lane and they’re promising a show that is very much inspired by life imitating art, according to writer Tony Corcoran.
“There’s a variety of sketches, from the beginning of earth to our school days to our old age…there is a narrative but it is very loose. There’s a bit of everything in it. We have Davy Sutton doing a parody on the Arthur Brothers and Davy Furey…it’s kind of a ‘why are my songs so boring’ thing. We have a GAA dressing room on match day, a school day, Hangover Monday…both the Council meeting and the Old Folk’s Home are back again. The old folks are doing Bohemian Rhapsody and nobody can remember what’s going on. At the end of the sketch, Des Manahan is going to come on and sing If I Had my Life to Live Over. We’re hoping that will capture a little moment for us, after the chaos of the boys in the home.”
The Bilberry Goats are Davy Sutton, Terry Scol Grant, Brian Juckey Collins, Tony Corcoran, Brenda Giles, Hazel Tebay, Brian Power, Derek Dee Lannigan and David Hennessy and they’re usually joined on stage by a number of guests which this year includes Paul Corcoran, Des Manahan, Damo McD, Chloe McGrath and Kayleigh Quinlan. Teaching the old Goats a new trick or will be the legendary comic performer Nicky Cummins.
“One of the sketches is a tribute to my father, who passed away earlier this year (the late Denny Corcoran)”, Tony continues. “ We’re doing a sketch that he wrote many years ago and it will be performed by myself, my brother, my sister and my Dad’s best friend, Nicky Cummins.
“It was actually at my Dad’s funeral that Nicky said he’d love to do a sketch and I said we’d try to sort something out. So we went for an old sketch called Heading for the Oscars that was written by my dad for a Waterford Crystal Tops of the Town show, probably in the late 70s or early 80s, I don’t remember the year. Originally, Boola Power was in it and Bertie Rogers and there was a female role so they roped in a poor American girl working in the Glass Factory as well…that was some culture shock for her, sitting next to Boola.”
“It’s bringing me back years, watching Nicky delivering his lines in the rehearsals”, adds Michael Grant, who co-produces the show with Padraig O’Griofa. “He has such great delivery and he even stuck to the lines. Mind you, that was in the rehearsal. God only know what he’ll do by the time the show comes around.”
“Nicky would have a bit of a reputation for going off script”, Tony explained. “He could come out with anything.”
“I wouldn’t like to be the fella that’s getting a slap off him in the sketch”, Michael added. “We’ve already had to warn him to take it easy.”
The Bilberry Goats evolved out of the Waterford Variety Group’s annual production of the Theatre Royal Variety Show and their previous shows in 2013 and 2014 were sell-outs. Their ambition, they say, is to bring Waterford’s great tradition for comedy writing to new audiences.
“We do the show because we want to keep comedy sketch-writing alive in Waterford”, Michael continues. “Having somebody with the ability to write comedy sketches as well as Tony has is a bonus.
“When we were in Tops years ago, my favourite part was watching other people’s comedy. But when Tops went, all the new comedians were stand-ups, the Tommy Tiernans and so on. Brilliant, but as they emerged, the sketch faded away. That’s very important to the Bilberry Goats, reviving that tradition. And I hope to God it encourages other people.”
“When we did the Variety Show years ago, the audience had a lot of grey hairs”, adds Pardaig O’Griofa. “ That’s not happening any more so there is an appetite for what we’re doing with younger people. We’re building a new audience, by the sounds of it and I like that idea.”
An effective production team is crucial to a successful show and the Bilberry Goats have the hardest-working crew in the country, Tony says.
“We do the comedy part but Michael and Padraig put some effort into being the overseers. When it comes to the crunch, they keep everything going and nothing is a problem, no matter what props or whatever we ask for. Patrice Power does our costumes and Wayne Brown helps us out with the music, we couldn’t do it without them either.”
And does Tony ever have trouble rounding up the cast members for the annual show?
“Yep, every night. No, seriously, as soon as they know the show is coming up, every one of them puts their hand up. It can be difficult to organise 11 busy people to get into rehearsals during July and August.
“Once they come together, the thing takes on a life of its own. The script goes out the window a lot of the time. I spend a fair while trying to reel them back in…a sketch will end up being twenty minutes long instead of the ten it was supposed to. But they’re generally very well-behaved.
“The whole cast will close the show singing Get By With a Little Help from my Friends which, I must say, is sounding very good. I wrote the song into the sketch because it may be the last sketch we ever do as The Bilberry Goats so I thought it would be nice to give it a bit of meaning.”
• Limited tickets are still available for The Bilberry Goats at Garter Lane. Contact the booking office for details.