Northern Ireland

Laughter best medicine for recession depression

Do we need to laugh more during a recession?

It seems the people in the Republic do, with reports claiming satire there is making a comeback both in comedy clubs and on radio.

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Media captionComedy and satire are thriving in the Republic of Ireland

It's fairly common now for people in the Republic meeting on a Saturday afternoon to ask each other whether they had heard the latest episode of Green Tea or its replacement on RTE Radio One, The Second Republic.

Jokes are remembered and sketches laughed at; nothing is sacred.

Green Tea in recent times has parodied the Ulster rugby fans' recent visit to the city with both a reporter and the fans - Billy, Ivan and Jeffrey - embarrassed that there was a Padraig in their midst.

Times are changing and not just in Ulster rugby; humour and satire have returned to the Irish air waves.

In the pilot show for The Second Republic the host, Neil Delamere, jokes about reporters annoying Martin McGuinness during his visit to the ploughing championships saying: "Personally, I wouldn't have annoyed any Sinn Feiner when he had that much access to fertiliser."

While comedy and satire are thriving now many have wondered why there was so little of either during the Celtic Tiger bubble years.

With hindsight it's clear that those years were crying out to be parodied and made fun of.

Comedian Neil Delamere says he can pinpoint the moment he realised there was something wrong about an era that placed so much emphasis on house prices.

"At one point my aunty said to me, 'Did you see that girl that was stabbed to death in that flat', and I said, 'Yeah, it's terrible'.

"And she said, ' Yeah, it is. They'll find it hard to sell that flat,' and I thought, 'Oh my God, she's not focussing on the most important part of that story'," he says.

The International Bar, just off Dublin's Grafton Street, has hosted some of Ireland's best known comedians since the 1980s - among them, Dermot Carmody.

He has an interesting theory on the failure of satire during 'the bubble years'.

"The vast majority of people didn't want to know that the emperor had no clothes, or no Mercedes or no six-bedroom house in Ranelagh," he said.

"So, when things went wrong we felt it was an opportunity to do something and we found doors opening where we wouldn't have had, even a year before everything went one end over the other."

Fellow comedian Kevin Gildea sees comedy almost as national group therapy - a way for the county to come to terms with changed economic circumstances.

He says: "I think it's cliché but people do want to laugh. And in stand-up, in particular, you can discuss things that are happening in a comic way.

"And there's a genuine thirst for that. You really feel the need for a community discussing things."

But not just in stand-up, radio sketches are also getting people talking, smiling and laughing.

Green Tea recently satirised a Sinn Fein meeting that included Gerry Adams, Mary-Lou McDonald and finance spokesman, Pearse Doherty.

Gerry Adams tells Pearse that he dreamt he found a pot of leprechaun's gold at the end of the rainbow that would solve the country's financial problems.

Pearse Doherty hopes it's not Northern Bank money while Mary Lou adds that as far as economic policies go, it's better than any policy Sinn Fein has on offer.

At which point Gerry Adams tells Mary Lou to go away and work on her tan while the men discuss important matters; to which she replies "I thought it was against party policy to support the tans".

As the late Frank Carson would have said: "It's the way that she tells them".