Seeing FAH Live for the First Time!
Walking into Vicar Street in Dublin, FAH's home theatre and home town, was surreal and wonderful at the same time. It's a much smaller venue than I realized and there is a simplicity about it that makes the place rather unassuming and inconspicuous. The theatre is intimate and it is immediately apparent why and how FAH connect with the audience so easily. The space is conducive to close proximity to people. It was packed last night (April 14, 2022) with barely room for folks to swivel on their stools. Also, there were people in the balconies and there were others standing the entire time for this show. So, when I say the venue was packed, we were like sardines in a can.
When Hog first appeared I honestly had the feeling that Elvis had entered the building. It was a phenomenal experience to see him first before the other two. He was so near, yet far enough away that I got a sense of his stealth movements through the audience. He moves with agility and ease, weaving his way between people and sussing out everyone in sight. He was searching, clearly, for his marks - people who he could talk to, tease, play around with, and generally get involved with the show, but also people who would be good sports about that involvement. He is a master at this and it was entirely possible to see the master in action. And he was on fire. Hog set the tone from the very beginning of the show and the energy level was palpable. It was high. Hog is high energy personified. He brings a sense of passion and vivacity to the experience that Arms and Foil match valiantly, with Arms coming along quickly and Foil bringing up the calming rear.
They work so well together. It really isn't possible to see the nuances on the screen the way it is possible to see what they're doing on stage. Every single movement, look, comment, spoken word, action is something that comes naturally to them in their clear connection to one another. It's not like they're a well oiled machine because that would imply a sameness to their acts and sketches, but it's more that they love to surprise each other and that surprise is what we feel in the audience. There is an alive and electrifying energy to the three of them as they move around on the stage, interact with the audience, and improvise. There was something new around every corner, at every juncture of a sketch, and we were the great beneficiaries of these delicious moments of comedy.
There was laughter galore, of course, but laughter is only part of the show. There is also camaraderie and community and this is what FAH share with the audience as well. It's never that they're separate from us - the venue does not allow this anyway - but that we are part of the show. We're almost another prop for FAH and they are incredibly respectful of us all the way along, even when they're taking the piss out of someone or having the craic! Whatever the moment may be, FAH are making sure that we're involved every single step of the way. They rely on us, need us, and worship us all at the same time and it is a joy to be a part of something so ever-changing and vibrant. They're making comedy up there on the stage and they're asking us to be a part of that - it's an utter privilege to see them work their magic in creating comedy gold.
There were three main people - Mary, Liam, and "the Vet" (she was a veterinarian, but the joke became army vet - as in veteran) - who were part of the show. Each person was given a role and asked to step outside of their comfort zone, but each person was also given so much support from FAH and from the audience. There was a welcoming feel to the interactions between these people and all the comedy going on around them. And they played along like great sports, doing what FAH asked of them and getting all the deserved applause.
FAH performed their Swines show in the first hour and then returned after a 15 minute break to do some familiar sketches from past shows: Right Song, Wrong Lyrics, the wonderful sketch about regional accents in which there was A LOT of extensive improv, and a host of other ones that at this point, dear reader, are kind of a blur. What has stayed with me, however, is the wonder of it all. The sheer thrill of being in the same room with the three artists who I've written about and supported for almost two full years. The sights and sounds and rich ambiance of a place that I've dreamed about, written poems and talked to other fahns about their experiences. But now I was there or here, as the case may be, for I will see FAH twice more in Vicar Street and I can't wait to experience their wild and crazy comedy all over again.
What has also stayed with me is the excitement of seeing and hugging friends I've only talked to over zoom or social media messaging, the utter joy of those around me - local and international, alike - who were there to support three Irish guys who they love and whose comedy has carried them through both good and bad times in their life. And then afterwards, the meet and greet. This time it was a bit more formal, a line formed in a way not seen since pre-pandemic days and there were two security guards making sure we were doing what we were supposed to with the stars - Foil and Arms (sans Hog) - but nobody could contain the enthusiasm and excitement coming from the fahns towards F & A. Nobody.
Just a note about said security guards. Honestly, they could have been a sketch unto themselves. I don't think they had ever quite encountered the fervent love of us fahns before. We were not to be contained or reigned in at all. We would give our presents, see our idols, and chat to them for as long as we possibly could get away with doing. They told us to leave, we stood still, they told us to move on, we did not, they told us to take a picture, we were still chatting and on and on it went. But what was so lovely the entire time was how calm Foil and Arms were, how sweet and kind and gentle and just totally lovely they treated every single person who came to talk to them.
There were people of all ages waiting, people from all countries, people speaking all kinds of languages, but all of us with a view to meeting two comedians we admire and who make us laugh so hard our cheeks hurt! There was a young girl who showed them her Irish dancing, a fahn who rocked up with FAH's favorite cookies, a number of others offering gift bags, and still more who just wanted a quick chat and a picture. Through it all F & A were the epitome of gentlemen come to pay a call; lively, funny, gracious, helpful hosts who made sure that everyone got what they needed and wanted.
One more thing, dear reader, that fills my heart with joy and adds the most personal note to this blog post. When Foil first saw me standing in line, his face lit up with happy recognition and that just made me, in turn, elated. It was one of those moments that any fahn, nay, any person might remember in their lifetime. The sheer joy of someone who you admire, recognizing you in their vicinity. A truly lovely moment, indeed.
Tonight (April 15, 2022) I will see FAH perform again and, as many fahns have told me, I will see new and different things in their sketches, experience more improvisation, and laugh to my heart's content and beyond that, I'm sure. But for now, I revel in everything I experienced yesterday at FAH's live show and I can't wait for what's to come tonight!