The King of Comedy's 'cartoon view' on the wider world

Mario Rosenstock is back at the UCH with his 'brand new' show this week

Alan Owens


Alan Owens

The King of Comedy's 'cartoon view' on the wider world

'It is like a drug to me, I actually can’t wait to do this': Marion Rosenstock

TO hear Mario Rosenstock tell it, his success, or at least the beginnings of a stellar career that lead him to this point, was “a complete fluke”.

A chance meeting with radio presenter Ian Dempsey – I “just happened to meet him,” says Rosenstock – brought about a trial on the fledgling Today FM and Gift Grub was born.

“Ian turned out to be a huge success, I clicked at the beginning of this tenure and Today FM was on an upward curve, they were able to pay wages, they kept going and I just helped that cycle.

“It was the right place at the right time. That is all. My first contract was for three months.  This was back in 1999, there was barely email, no social media, the only way you would know if people were enjoying it, Ian would walk into Tesco and people would come up to him and say they were loving that ‘Bertie stuff’ and that would be your barometer. People in a supermarket telling you how they were feeling. And he was just hearing that, that people were cottoning on to it, and I would get that feeling as well.”

Rosenstock has since established himself as the country’s King of Comedy, best selling albums, top charting songs, television appearances and, more recently, live shows, following quickly. He likes to tour every two years, to keep things fresh. No recycling of material here. 

“It is my favourite thing to do. People look at me aghast when I say that, ‘you are on the road again? That must be hell’. It is like a drug to me, I actually can’t wait to do this.

“The feeling of being in a live atmosphere, with material that you believe in, there is nothing like it. When you know you are onto decent stuff – and I have the luxury of being on radio so I can trial material all the time – and you can animate it live, it is a fantastic experience.

“I knock the arse out of it and tour for two or three months, and then just disappear. And when I come back the next time, it will be a new show. I have experience of going to shows and you saw 80% of it six months ago. I just feel that is wrong, so I am doing a new show, it is a premiere, an unveiling, surprises. That is what I love doing.”

Expect plenty of politics – he talks about Enda Kenny being a “caretaker zombie Taoiseach” – a Euros preview, courtesy of Roy Keane and John Delaney, a special marking of the 1916 Rising, starring Michael Flatley, plus plenty of “new material for old characters” and a special tribute to Paul O’Connell, whom he clearly has great affection for.

“My interpretation is based actually on just one clip,” he says of the famous “fear of God” speech. “I basically said I was going to make his whole character like that. So that even when he is being nice to Ian or talking on the phone, he still has this monstrous voice! With Paulie and people like him, Joan Burton for example, they are such larger than life characters that it is not necessary to always get them so right. You inflate and take the piss and almost cartoon them and people love that.”

He talks animatedly about the “affinity” he feels with Limerick, where he lived for the first year of his life. His grandad, George Rosenstock, was a doctor in Kilfinane.

“So I have long ties with Kilfinane, and my uncles and Dad were brought up in Limerick and they all went to Munchin’s and Glenstal.

“It is one of my favourite places to play – all down in Munster, Cork probably number one and Limerick number two. I can’t be Mr Idiot going around to every place saying ‘this is my favourite’, I have to some semblance of honesty,” he adds with a laugh.

- Mario Rosenstock plays the UCH this Thursday and Friday, April 7 and 8. The first night is sold out, but limited tickets are available for Friday