Wednesday, May 2, 2018

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12 Out of 10 For Laughter

Review by John Coulter 0f General Banter Live Podcast by Colin Geddis and Mickey Bartlett, Limelight, Belfast.
Are you mad, Coulter? That’s the initial impression when I suggested I review the latest live podcast by Northern Irish comedy duo, Colin Geddis and Mickey Bartlett.

On paper, there’s no way a God-fearing, evangelical Presbyterian Unionist should enjoy the foul-mouthed tirades which pass as modern comedy. But the crowd which packed the Limelight and roared with laughter at every line, innuendo and crude joke certainly got their money’s worth. 

Okay, so at 58 I was probably one of the oldest in the audience, but that should not take away from the fact that Messrs Geddis and Bartlett have tapped successfully into a huge demand for such ‘kick in the teeth’ comedy.

The General Banter routine would certainly not be an ideal evening for the men’s fellowship of any Christian church, but Geddis and Bartlett know how to push things to the edge of the wire - and even to stretch that wire to breaking point without breaking legal and ethical codes.

Setting the sexual and cursing expletives aside, this duo provided a fast pace of topics ranging from Arlene Foster to the art of vomiting, to certain high profile sports stars to stag parties and anal sex!

I last saw Geddis in action in Portrush in 2013. Over 90 per cent of his comic routine went over my head. I guess as a comedy critic, I’m still stuck in the Carry On films and Dad’s Army era. But the audience loved every minute of that Portrush gig.

Nothing has changed for me over the past five years. I still don’t understand most of Geddis and Bartlett’s gags, but the audience was rolling with laughter.

Reflecting on the jokes and delivery, there was certainly nothing I could repeat at a Sunday school outing, but then again, Colin and Mickey are not exactly after the ‘born again’ Christian target audience.

I am old enough to recall the inaugural ‘I am Fighter’ video featuring Geddis as ‘Barry the Blender Henderson’. I even did a workshop with him to try and get my head around the secret of his clearly enormous talent. I’m still baffled, but that’s probably the Blackmouth Presbyterian in me!

While others laughed and clapped enthusiastically throughout the entire performance, I sat as if I was rooted to the seat at a Baptist prayer meeting.

Located in the second row, my only concern was that either Mickey or Colin would notice my motionless appearance and pick on me! I understood the Arlene Foster gag, but that’s not repeatable here. I think I got the point of the Game of Thrones stuff, and the remarks about the ‘RA.

If you are a practising Christian, this show rates at minus 10. However, let’s judge it on the laughter value - it now score 12 out of 10.

But don’t take the word of an ageing political commentator watching General Banter while suffering from a heavy cold. Go and see it for yourself.

In terms of ‘kick in the teeth’ stand-up comedy, Geddis and Bartlett are masters in their own right. They are probably too young to be branded as legends, but when the history of Irish comedy is penned in the future, ‘legends’ is the word which must be used - whether you be atheist or ‘born again’ believer.

Dr John Coulter has been a journalist working in Ireland for the past 40 years.

His ebook, An Sais Glas (The Green Sash) The Road to National Republicanism is published on Amazon Kindle.

Dr Coulter is on Twitter @JohnAHCoulter