Tag Archives: RTE

When Gay Met God

Famous Twitter user, Apple enthusiast and idiot’s thinking man Stephen Fry was this week the subject of slightly more inane internet chatter than usual as his verbose response to a theological question described a graceful arc amidst a profusion of beheadings, Ebola and water protestors, to the top of whatever collective noun is used for viral videos.

The video of Fry saying some words had stiff competition in the online news world from another which featured the fiancée of a tennis player saying some words, but the internet quickly decided that the former was far better suited to sharing on social media in lieu of opinions, especially when paired with accompanying epithets such as “Legend!” or “What a hero!”.

Videos such as this have begun to permeate and even dominate the colloquium of internet news in recent times; indeed why waste time writing lengthy articles outlining opinions and facts when the words “Watch What Happened when Noun Verb Noun” carry such inherent journalistic weight?

Given the video’s proliferation and the somewhat unflattering nature of Fry’s words concerning the individual known as God, it seemed natural to expect a reaction from the maligned party. And so it came to pass that on this week’s episode of The Meaning of Life, Gay Byrne sat down with God himself to discuss the issue, and many others besides. The following are excerpts taken from that interview.

~

Gay: Hello, and welcome to a very special episode of The Meaning of Life. My guest tonight has, quite literally, seen and done it all. It is of course, our Lord and Creator, God. Welcome, God. Can I call you God?

God: Of course Gay, and thanks for having me. Sorry I’m a bit late, I had to appear in a cracker in Guatemala.

– Understandable, no problem at all.

– And before we begin I have to say I’m a big fan. I never missed an episode of The Late Late when you were presenting. Of course I’m omniscient so I never miss anything.

– Of course.

– The new fella though, I don’t really care for him. I know I’m supposed to love you all equally but it’s hard sometimes, you know?

– I can imagine. So let’s get right into it then God. What do you think of Stephen Fry? Do you like him?

– Well I followed him on Twitter there a while ago, but he never followed me back. I tried to add him on Facebook too but he blocked me. It’s like he refuses to acknowledge my existence. It’s a bit mean really, I was a bit upset about it.

– From what I hear this story goes back further than his comments last week on this show.

– Yeah, there was an incident at the BAFTAs a few years back. He was presenting them for the first time and he was a bit nervous. I was there obviously, because I’m everywhere, as you know.

– Naturally.

– So anyway, I had been drinking Schnapps all night with Jason Isaacs and Helen Mirren, and we got a bit raucous. We started shouting stuff at Stephen, innocent enough stuff to begin with, but then Helen took it up a level, and I didn’t stop it.

– So you were heckling him?

– I’m not proud of it. Those were some difficult years for me, kind of a mid-life crisis I suppose. I filled his dressing room with locusts after the show too, just for a laugh. Made the walls drip blood, that kind of thing. It was around that time he started to ignore me. I suppose I can’t blame him.

– He called you a capricious bully last week. How did that make you feel?

– Look Gay, don’t go all Oprah on me now. This isn’t Sinead O’Connor you’re talking to. Deities aren’t comfortable talking about their feelings, that’s more of a mortal thing.

– Okay, let’s talk about the book. It’s coming out next month, is that right?

– That’s right yeah, that’s what I’m here to talk about really.

– Why did you feel that now was the time for an autobiography? Do you feel your life’s work is mostly behind you now?

– Not at all Gay, it’s more that I’m sick of being misrepresented by that other book. I mean, that’s not the real me, you know.

– So this one’s called Stairway from Heaven. It’s a nice title, why did you choose it?

– I suppose I wanted to let people know that I’m not always just sitting up in my ivory tower, that I’m down here on Earth with my people too.

– Do you actually have an ivory tower up there?

– It’s a metaphor Gay. I told you before the show Heaven was off limits. Why would you bring it up?

– You’re right, I’m sorry. So what kind of time period does the book cover? Do you go right back to the start, back to your childhood?

– I don’t really get into it in too much detail, my childhood was fairly ordinary.

– Ordinary?

– Yes.

– Eh, okay…so the book is twelve thousand pages long. Did you think of trimming it down a bit?

– My editor at Penguin kept telling me it was too long, until I smote him. Look there’s a lot to tell, it’s 14 billion years we’re talking about here. My first draft was a page per year, so it’s been cut down a lot as it is.

– I’m sorry, just to go back, when you say ‘smote’?…

– It was a joke, Gay. I do have a sense of humour you know.

– Ha, of course. Good one, God.

– Okay, don’t go all Jonathan Ross on it Gay. Let’s move on.

– Let’s talk about the new Pope. What do you think of him?

– Hmmm. He’s alright I suppose, a bit soft maybe but that’s the modern world for you. Stephen VI, now he could pope with the best of them. Mad as a brush of course, but some man for the craic all the same.

– So Pope Francis isn’t much fun then? Do you talk often?

– I try to keep it professional, send him the odd memo about this or that. He’s a bit too friendly though, he keeps sending me links to YouTube videos and inviting me to play Candy Crush Saga.

– You don’t like the game?

– It’s not that I don’t like it Gay, it wouldn’t be fair for me to play it. I’d win every time. Because I’m omnipotent, you see.

– I see, of course. So before we finish God, can you give us any hints as to what the future holds in store for mankind?

– Well, something big’s going to go down in the year 3196, but I can’t say much beyond that without giving it away.

– Okay, you can’t give us anything a bit more short-term?

– That’s the blink of an eye in cosmic terms Gay.

– Of course, of course. Well, I’ll let you go God, I know you’re busy.

– Thanks Gay, I’ve to get back up there or the young lad’ll have the place wrecked. Take it easy, see you soon. Not too soon says you, ha?

– Ha, thanks again God.

(God disappears with a loud bang, leaving just a puff of white smoke)

– Well, that’s all for this week. Join us next time when we’ll be talking to the prophet Muhammad about privacy in the modern age. Until then, good night and God bless.

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Friday Night Shite

This season of The Late Late Show has continued its recent trend of receiving poor viewing figures, with last Friday’s programme coming sixth in the weekly ratings. RTÉ’s flagship show usually tops the ratings, but this season has seen a dramatic fall in viewers. An RTÉ spokeswoman cited last Friday’s clash with the international football match between Ireland and Andorra as a reason for the decreased figures. Although the fact that people would rather watch such a tedious game is probably more of an indictment of The Late Late than anything.

The lack of interest in last Friday’s show is particularly puzzling given the calibre of the guests involved on the night. Glamour model Jodie Marsh treated the audience to a display of her newly toned physique, and was so scantily clad and oiled up that people seemed surprised that a video camera and a Premiership footballer were nowhere to be seen. Apparently bodybuilding is her latest attempt at fame after years of failing to emulate the success of fellow Z-list famous tart, Jordan, in being a famous tart. To aim so stupendously low with your life’s ambition and still fall short is fairly pathetic. The woman is a waste of decent matter that could instead have been used to make a tree or a rock, or one of those lizards that can lick its own eyes. Those things are awesome.

After putting up with the aforementioned bronzed wretch, everyone in the studio seemed in need of a good laugh. Which is why it was so unfortunate that Des Bishop was invited onto the show. Des thought of one joke about a water heating system about eleven years ago and has failed to come up with a better one since. And the original joke wasn’t even that great. Instead he has since embarked on a crusade to save the Irish language, seemingly convinced he can do so primarily through shouting banal observational comedy about the Irish. Did you hear the one about Irish people loving the craic? It was shit and unfunny because Des Bishop told it.

Having somehow not surpassed its quota of excitement for the evening, The Late Late next unveiled not one, not two, but three completely irrelevant people. Paul Carberry is famous for not being allowed to do his job as a jockey because he’s always banned for being pissed. He was accompanied by his sister and a third individual who may have been a horse trainer, or possibly the owner and handler of Paul himself. His habit of getting out of his chair every thirty seconds to feed Paul a sugar lump was disconcerting to say the least. Perhaps this is the point at which the programme lost most of its viewers. Horseracing is something of a niche sport, seeing as it only arouses the interest of fat alcoholics from Meath and Kildare who run out of greyhounds and English football clubs to bet on during the week and need an even more boring way of gambling away their children’s inheritance while they stand around talking about the Fianna Fáil glory days and the inventive ways in which they like to beat their wives.

All in all then, an incredibly unimpressive collection of people to have to endure on a Friday night. However, no matter how entertaining the guests may be in a given week, there is one shrewlike, table-slapping, mincing common denominator that makes watching The Late Late only slightly preferable to peeling off your own skin with a butter knife, simply because the latter would take a bit longer. The fact that Tubs has managed to carve out a successful career in broadcasting is an unfathomable mystery akin to that of the disappearing planes in the Bermuda Triangle, or how Colin Farrell got that accent growing up in Castleknock.

His obsession with the 60’s and anachronistic mannerisms give him the air of a particularly snooty twelve year old who’s acting out an episode of Mad Men in his head while everyone else looks on and sees not a suave, debonair sophisticate but an officious, self-important little shit. Tubs’ stilted manner, forced geniality and awkward demeanor whenever anyone deviates slightly from the script is painful to watch. The longest running chat show in the world, and a veritable institution under the steady hand of the twinkly-eyed Gaybo, has become tired and turgid under Tubridy.

As an aside, given the current economic climate it’s hard to believe that the show is also sponsored by The Quinn Group, a bunch of mercenaries who made their Celtic Tiger billions through hawking cement, insurance and misery to the Irish people. It’s nice to see that despite being in debt to the tune of about €5 billion, Seanie still has a few quid to pour into this quagmire of trite, pointless conversation that we’re subjected to on a weekly basis.

It’s safe to assume that The Late Late won’t be cancelled any time soon, so maybe the best thing to do is look around for a more suitable host. Although the way this country’s going at the moment, in a year or two we might see The Late Late presented by Jedward. Brought to you by Anglo Irish Bank and filmed in front of a live studio audience of the four people who haven’t emigrated to Australia yet. “Like, OMG, please stand for our first guest, Uachtarán na hÉireann, Martin McGuinness!” That butter knife is beginning to sound pretty good after all.


Hmm, Needs More Seasons

It’s not often that a regular fixture on the RTÉ schedule is worth watching, given that the national broadcaster’s channels are usually overflowing with mediocrity. Having to sit through the likes of Nationwide, Fair City and Oireachtas Report makes you wish you had spent more of your life watching paint dry so that you’d have something more exciting to think about while trying to ignore the grey, lifeless droning coming from whatever Montrose octogenarian has been taken out of the cupboard and dusted off this week. RTÉ is like the opposite of Logan’s Run, where you seem to have to reach a certain age before you’re allowed in front of the camera, as well as a certain level of tedious monotony.

One welcome exception to this rule over the past few weeks has been the Irish edition of MasterChef, which has made for compelling viewing. Not because the show is an impressively polished, stylish showcase of cooking like its British equivalent, which it isn’t. It’s more to do with the fact that there’s nothing more hilarious than watching people attempt to do something difficult, particularly when those people are of the hapless and desperate variety. With one or two notable exceptions, the amateur chefs battling for the prize are woefully inadequate, and the mistakes they make each week are endlessly entertaining to watch.

There is also the added hilarity of the Irishness of the whole endeavour. We really are woeful at producing these kinds of reality shows. When the likes of The Apprentice and Come Dine With Me come across the water we manage to turn successful formats into litanies of cringeworthy moments. Of course it doesn’t help that the kind of people that apply to be contestants aren’t exactly of a high calibre. The shows quickly descend into a farcical and pathetic race to see who manages to be the least awful at being a person. Added to this is the fact that they are usually shoddily edited, and with an amateur feel that gives the impression that the production team gleaned most of their film knowledge from watching YouTube videos of animals getting stuck in things.

Unfortunately the Irish version of the programme is also missing the most important ingredient (see what I did there?) of the British show, the inimitable judges, Gregg Wallace and John Torode. Whether it was waiting for Gregg to come across a dessert that didn’t make him moan orgasmically, or listening to John’s ridiculously elongated vowels as he told someone their soufflé was a piece of shit, the judges were by far the most entertaining element of the competition.

Compared to their counterparts, the Irish judges are a bit of a disappointment. Nick Munier is a pleasant enough fellow, but doesn’t have much in the way of cooking credentials. He became known as the maitre d’ in Marco Pierre White’s Hell’s Kitchen, in which he was renowned for tripping over himself and dropping food on the ground. Apparently he continued to do so regularly because he couldn’t decipher from Marco Pierre’s one facial expression whether he was angry, confused, or trying to sell him Knorr Stock Cubes. Nick would be perfect if this was a competition to find the clumsiest arsehole, but despite much evidence to the contrary, it’s supposedly about being able to cook.

The other judge is the perennially sour-faced Dylan McGrath. Like most people from the North, he seems vaguely annoyed that he’s alive most of the time. Dylan is famous for running his overpriced restaurant, Mint in Ranelagh, into the ground. McGrath has had a number of complaints made against him by staff for his abusive attitude in the kitchen, a sadly ubiquitous feature of the celebrity chef culture for which we have Gordon “This fucking pasta’s overcooked you prick” Ramsay to thank. McGrath’s restaurant was highly regarded by critics however, with The Sunday Business Post’s food critic declaring,

“It is a long, long time since a meal actually haunted me in the way a beautiful painting or a thoughtful book might.”

The writer has sadly since passed away due to an irreversible case of being an unbelievably pretentious twat.

Pretentiousness is not exactly thin on the ground in culinary circles. When chefs, critics and connoisseurs are judging dishes the food seems to take on remarkably unfoodlike qualities. Quotes like “This salad is a bit haughty”, or “Your risotto doesn’t quite have enough pathos for me” wouldn’t seem out of place. These traditionalists also sometimes seem to forget that taste is subjective. Expert criticism of technique is one thing but certain elements just come down to personal preference. One cliché often rolled out is “Hmm, needs more seasoning.” Oh, does it really? Well maybe I just thought you could do with a little less sodium in your diet you bloated cretin. I’m convinced that food, wine and art critics get together every month to get pissed and have money fights, all the while laughing maniacally at how they’ve duped people into thinking that they actually serve a purpose.

As for MasterChef Ireland, hopefully future seasons will provide a little more in the way of talent and excitement. At the moment it’s a bit like watching one of those episodes of Ready Steady Cook where some bloke thought it would be hilarious to just bring a massive potato, or a ten kilo bag of peas. Which it always was, in fairness. I know I’ll keep tuning in anyway, if only to wait with bated breath for the day that Nick tries to carry something heavy across the kitchen. Now that’s the kind of excitement you just don’t get with Oireachtas Report these days.


Do They Know It’s Not Christmas?

There’s a whole quarter of the year left until yer man comes down the chimney and empties his sackful of Apple products, video games, and perhaps even the occasional toy, all over your floor. Yet apparently we need a whole three months to plan the incredibly complicated geometrical puzzle of how to arrange the baubles on our tree, or the equally challenging enigma of whether to put the plastic snowman that sings ‘Jingle Bells’ on the windowsill or in the porch, before the thing goes off for the hundredth time that day and you beat it into a pile of circuits and white fluff with a poker in a fit of eggnog-induced festive rage.

Because we need such a long time to coordinate our festive period the nation’s shops have kindly removed anything that doesn’t meet the required level of jolliness, and filled their windows and aisles from floor to ceiling with cheap tat, in order to imbue us with that unmistakeably Christmassy feeling of being surrounded by cheap tat. Every square inch of every shop is full to the brim with useless but confusingly desirable Christmas knick-knacks, while tannoy systems blare the same six or seven famous Christmas songs at you in order to annoy you into purchasing something just so you can leave to regain your sanity. Until the New Year it will be impossible to enter a shop without buying at least seven reindeer-related objects, and leaving in a daze covered in spray snow, tinsel and saccharine yuletide goodness.

Don’t get me wrong, Christmas is undoubtedly the best time of the year. Despite that crazy Nazareth cult trying to hijack the holiday and turn it into a celebration of peace, love and other such boring concepts, the festive period has instead stayed true to its Pagan roots whereby Germanic nomads would agree not to kill each other with sharp rocks for one day every year. Instead they got together to eat turkey and stuffing sandwiches, drink gallons of booze and watch half of The Great Escape before falling asleep. Books of lore also tell us that they gave each other gifts which would seem extremely outdated by today’s standards, such as black-and-white Game Boys and first generation iPods. It’s certainly a much more wholesome origin story than the one about the carpenter, the virgin and the farmyard animals in a barn.

The problem with looking forward to Christmas for such a long time is that it ruins the excitement of the actual holiday. By the time December comes around we’ll be so saturated with all things Christmas that we won’t want to see another Santa hat, Christmas cracker or chestnut roasting on an open fire. Although to be fair I’ve never seen one of those and it sounds more like something a squirrel would do to celebrate Christmas.

The tedium of enduring such a long Christmas season hasn’t been helped in recent years by the constant snowfall that now seems to occur annually for at least a month. Snow used to be a novelty in this country, like a solar eclipse or a sound bus driver. Now we’re bombarded with the stuff every year, and there are only so many giant snow penises to be crafted to offset the annoyance at the complete disintegration of all of the country’s services. It takes us about ten minutes to run out of sand and salt, after which the only way to get around is to hesitantly tiptoe everywhere in the hope that you won’t slip on the compacted ice and become the laughing stock of the country. The odd snow shower is nice and seasonal but there’s nothing festive about not being able to get home from the pub without breaking your tailbone.

As everyone who’s anyone will tell you, the Christmas season officially begins upon the first airing of the Coca-Cola ad on telly, and ends when there’s nothing left in the Roses tin except empty wrappers and partially digested hazelnuts. With blatant disregard for these time-honoured traditions, the shops continue to force Christmas on us earlier each year. It’s bad enough having to actually go Christmas shopping at Christmas, battling your way down Henry Street past stalls of taxi drivers selling stolen packets of razor blades and haggard old women with beards hawking all sorts of cheap shite that you wouldn’t give to your worst enemy.

For the sake of the integrity of Christmas, it’s about time we banned all mention of the holiday until the month of December. Then we can go back to being miserable for all except a tiny portion of the year, which is exactly what makes the excesses of Christmas worth looking forward to. We’d then have eleven whole months completely free of overly commercialised nonsense being shoved in our faces from every direction. Except for Halloween obviously. And Easter. Oh, and Valentine’s Day. And Paddy’s Day. And now Arthur’s Day of course…

You know come to think of it, the older I get the more I find myself empathising with the Grinch. Bah Humbug and a Happy End of September to everyone. Your card’s in the post.