Monday, March 14, 2011

Irish Cabaret at the Marcus Center

A bit of Dublin on the Milwaukee river

By Russ Bickerstaff
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this man is NOT Dylan Moran

I'd heard it joked that Muslims would be much more accepted in this country if they’d adopt a drinking holiday of some sort. And though the Qur'an strictly forbids it, I agree. Alcohol brings cultures together. Those idiots against the establishment of another mosque in lower Manhattan would be much more likely to accept you if you’d sit down at the bar with the rest of us. Sure, there are those who think a good portion of a silent, hard-working shadow immigrant population should be sent south of the border, but the culture in question is much more accepted due to the proliferation of celebrations on the 5th of May. Generations ago, it was a commonly accepted practice in this country to discriminate against Irish immigrants. Over one hundred St. Patrick’s days later, it’s a bit difficult to see what all the fuss was about.

Seriously, though . . . what with the sheer number of Irish pubs in this country, it’s a fairly good bet that there’s more square footage of Irish pub on this side of the Atlantic than there is actual square feet in Ireland. The country’s number one export may be its culture, but it’s a bit difficult to feel on this side of things with the continual blare of American culture deafeningly broadcast from every major media outlet. So it’s understandable that I don’t know many Irish stand-up comedians.

Some time ago, I got a press release on an upcoming performance of Dublin’s Traditional Irish Cabaret rolling through town at the Marcus Center this month. When The first name listed on the cabaret is billed as someone “universally recognized as Ireland’s greatest comedian.” I was excited. I’d seen video of the guy before—heard recordings. A very wickedly surreal and staggeringly insightful kind of comedy. Brilliantly clever stuff. I couldn’t remember the name of the guy, but the name in the press release wasn’t Billy Connolly, so I figured it was this other guy I’d heard. (On closer inspection, I know only of two Irish stand-up comedians and one of the m is Scottish . . . so it stands to reason that I would mistake Noel V. Ginnity for Dylan Moran.) If I only know two guys, one of them must clearly be “universally recognized as Ireland’s greatest comedian.” Wrong. As it turns out, Moran is a guy from my generation. His 2011 tour doesn’t even take him this side of the Atlantic, while Noel V. Ginnity travels all over North America with the Irish Cabaret. You get the kind of Irish stand-up you deserve: Ginnity is a guy from way back. He’s been performing for decades. Classic recordings sound a bit like an Irish Henny Youngman, but even the newest stuff available online feels a bit old and antiquated. And so it goes.

The rest of Dublin’s Traditional Irish Cabaret looks . . . well . . . traditional. And it's also exceedingly family-friendly. One of the original Irish Tenors Paul Hennessy joins soprano Emer Hartnett, a group of traditional Irish dancers, an Uilleann piper and a pianist and accordionist from Tipperary. (It’s a long way there.)

Dublin’s Traditional Irish Cabaret,runs March 14th – 16th at the Marcus Center’s Vogel Hall. For reservations, call 414-273-7206.

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