(This not really an Empire-related article- but I've stuck it here anyway.)
There's a well-known, if apocryphal, story that frequently does the rounds in Ireland stating that the show Father Ted was turned down by RTE (the main Irish TV channel), and was then snapped up by the British Channel 4. Of course, following this, Father Ted went on to become not only one of the all-time classic comedies, but a part of the Irish cultural landscape for years to come. It's difficult to underestimate the impact this show had on our little country. Finally, we had a show which lovingly parodied our own culture without patronizing, and it was actually funny to boot! All the great Irish writers and comedians of the time were finally put to good work, and only English capitol could make it happen! We could watch it and recognize aspects of our culture, regardless of how ridiculously they were being exaggerated.
Coming out at the same time as the first major Church scandals, Father Ted also allowed people to laugh at the Church perhaps for the first time. We were able to see (and reassess) the Church's position in our society. In a very real way, Father Ted chronicles a period in Irish life which it itself helped bring to an end. Truly great comedy is capable of such feats.
This (untrue) story reinforces the common notion that RTE are insanely conservative, and wouldn't know good comedy if it slapped them in the face with a wet fish. Now they may be about to do it again. And again, it has taken an outsiders' perspective to make the definitive statement about Irish life. I'm talking, of course, about Hardy Bucks.
Hardy Bucks is an internet series that crams more truisms, laughs and memorable lines into its 10-15 minute no-budget episodes than an entire series of Killnascully (which wouldn't be hard, anyway). It chronicles the lives of four young lads living in Castletown, County Mayo, and their ongoing feud with local smartass The Viper. They live in a tiny rented cottage. They drink, they smoke, they fight, and they dream of making it to the 'big smoke'- Galway. Underneath their bravado however, they occasionally appear smart and sensitive. The unspoken theme is that they're not idiots, and that they recognise how they're trapped in their small-town situation . A state of affairs I'm sure many will identify with.
Two of the shows' creators, Chris Tordoff and Martin Maloney, are English but spent their teens growing up in Mayo. Moloney in particular, who is in actuality a Scouser, pulls off a flawless West-Ireland accent. Perhaps it's because of their background that they have been able to parody the Irish small-town scene accurately and affectionately.
Of course, this would all be so much pretentious nonsense if the show wasn't funny. But damn is it funny. It gives the impression of being very lightly (if at all) scripted, with most of the lines being ad-libbed by the talented and likeable cast. Special mentions must go to the incredible wit and voice talents of the Viper (imitating his ridiculous sneer will become a national passtime), though Hardy Bucks is definitely an ensemble project, with all involved spouting memorable lines. And almost every line is immensely quotable. They're just lads that you'd find in any town in the country. They're lads you'd know yourself. Perhaps the shows' true point of reference is not Father Ted but the Canadian Trailer Park Boys- there are few 'jokes', the humour coming instead from knowing and liking the characters. It's a show that rewards rewatching.
Hardy Bucks is rapidly becoming an underground cult hit. Their catchphrases are heard everywhere in Ireland, and even their 'deleted scenes' videos get more hits that their peers' full projects. All episodes are available on Youtube, and the lads also have Bebo and Facebook pages. Check them out.