Paddy and Nigel Act their Postcodes Review and Preview
By Michael O’Neill,
Downstairs at the MAC May 3rd, 2019
If you haven’t yet came across Nigel, the BT9 Tout, through your Facebook feed, you may have already caught him recently on BBC NI’s Nolan Live, Sandwiched between the ‘whataboutary’ that passes for political debate here, the native of Belfast’s bespoke Malone Road appeared in a recurring segment, offering a more ‘discerning Gentleman’s’ take on the week’s news and events. Nigel is the creation of West Belfast comedian Patrick Rafferty and he has built upon his recent exposure, turning it into a sell-out three night run in the Downstairs theatre of the MAC. That’s where I managed to catch the show Paddy and Nigel Act their Postcodes.
Paddy had been performing for a while when a recording of one his songs, Stacey’s Ma’ has joined the ‘Ra, was uploaded to his Facebook profile. Folks, it doesn’t get more Belfast centric than this cross community love song, a parody of the 2003 hit Stacy’s Mom, by Fountains of Wayne. It success turned Paddy’s Facebook profile into a platform for his comedy, eventually gaining the attention of those in Blackstaff House when Nigel’s first video featured on BBC NI Trending Page. It was here he was able to build the audience that would then go on sell out cities more prestigious venues, like the MAC, as well as taking Nigel across the province to perform in Derry’s Nerve Centre.
Who needs a warm-up act when you’ve a successful viral career? There’s a low-key genius to his decision to have a ‘greatest hits’ of his videos opening the show. Until now, the audience would only have enjoyed a solitary chuckle before sharing the video or tagging it for a friend. Serving as the warm up act however, they have a chance to unify, laughing together at characters and situations that are distinctly ‘Belfast.’ They go down so well that, during the thunderous applause that follows as he makes his way on stage, you find yourself thinking, almost worryingly, ‘How can he follow that?’
Shortly after arriving on stage with his guitar, Paddy wonders aloud if he hasn’t just shot himself in the foot by trying to follow his characters as just himself, with no audio filters, costumes or props. It’s not long though before the comedic engine behind those characters fire into gear as he moves into some solid and relatable routines. Commenting on his recent success, he lets us know that this evenings tickets sold out faster than Nigel did when he agreed to do the Nolan gig. There’s some topical subjects like the comings and goings at Belfast Zoo and the relatable frustration of having to watch three people make a sandwich in Subway, all landing strongly with the audience.
These comedic musings are interspaced with some deeply personal experiences as Paddy utilises that caustic Belfast wit to ‘find the funny’ in some difficult circumstances; namely things that happen whilst caring for a disabled family member. This skilful hopping between the topical and the personal come together; making for a strong performance and you start to realise, he’s bloody good at this.
Did I mention parody songs. Thanks Paddy, now I can’t listen to Guns and Roses Welcome To The Jungle now without hearing “Welcome to the Chapel, this is where we pray.’ It’s here Paddy’s work-man-like approach has its most comic effect; most evident as he crafts hilarious ‘Alternative Narratives,’ that serve to give him an excuse to play these songs for the audience.
Interval, act two: Nigel is joined by fellow Bravo Tango Niner, Jarred. Sitting at a piano, Jarred plays musical accompaniment throughout Nigel’s musings, elevating the evening’s proceedings more suited to our Malone Road neighbours. It was my own exception that Nigel would make hay by poking fun at the working poor of the city, however, the main focus of his humour came from making himself out to be a remarkably sympathetic character, a man of culture and taste trapped in a city with none.
He may be a Starboard Out Port Home kinda geezer, but Nigel is no snob, revealing in inviting the audience into decoding his pompous rephrasing of classic Belfast colloquialisms, he knows he’s taking the proverbial.
I was stumped until a more limber minded audience got there with Half Cut Where-as Paddy’s songs when played with the guitar, Nigel’s parody songs have a little more refinement to them, with Jay-Z’s 99 Problems re-cast to the piano, becoming BT9 Problems, Being’ a Tout Ain’t One.’
The ease with which Paddy is able to play Nigel is evident for all to see in the way he both handled the few hecklers during the show and posing for selfies with the audience in the lobby after. Nigel is able to stand apart from Paddy and he gave just a little more than maybe the audience may have expected. It was Paddy, however, who turned out be the surprise hit for those that hadn’t seen him before. Warm, relatable, smart and funny, it was a joy to watch people from Belfast take the idiosyncrasies of our city and turn it in its head.
BT9 is not just a postcode, it’s a way of life… so say the eejits eating in fancy restaurants near King’s Hall. To get your fun at their expense, Paddy and co. play the Limelight tomorrow night at 7.30pm.
Box Office number is: 02890 327007 or visit: http://www.limelightbelfast.co.uk