To cheer you up: Irish comedy group

Anybody heard of Foil Arms and Hog?

They are an Irish comedy group with a Youtube channel full of sketches and who also do live shows (I went to see them in May, and they were brilliant). I think one reason I personally enjoy them so much is because there’s almost always something distinctly Irish about their videos. For example, in the recent “Last Minute Holiday Panic“, the family wanting to bring a suitcase full of Irish sausages abroad. They’re also often relevant, making videos this year related to the European football championships and the Olympic boxing controversy  as these events were on-going. During the Irish general election a few months ago, I found “Election Time in Ireland” and “New Irish Government” delightful.

As an Irish person, I love to see the Irish language used. I watched the series “Ceol agus Ól” a fair bit while preparing for Irish orals this year.

Finally, these comedians are clever and (99% of the time) don’t need to rely on stereotypes or dirty jokes to get a laugh. Their humour is based around the characters being played as opposed to e.g. the gender of the character. They are also very skilled at dancing along the line between making a statement, and going a little too far, without ever really crossing it (and while being hilarious). See “How not to Offend People“, or the recent, glorious and all-too-relevant “The World is F**ked“.

Okay, back to the good bits: Besides the ones I’ve just mentioned, my favourites include “How to Speak Dublin“, “A Kerryman Gives Direction” and “The Ryanair Song” – relevant lines of this one will echo through your head as you’re booking a flight or rushing to catch your plane.


Spore – short film recommendation

I really liked this short film; it was effectively eerie and a clever concept. Perry Spore is visiting Earth, but it all goes fascinatingly wrong…

It was lovely to see Lizzie Bennet actors Ashley Clements and Mary Kate Wiles all goried up. But what especially impressed me was the fact that MK Wiles started the project herself. I have a tendency to not attempt things if I’m not sure how to go about doing them, so to me this initiative is impressive. By vlogging throughout the experience, Wiles also gives us a really interesting insight into what work is involved in making a film like this. I thoroughly enjoyed both the film and the accompanying Behind the Scenes vlogs.

Okay, I’ll stop fangirling about MK Wiles now.

(Side note: After this post, I’m going to take a blogging break for a little while, at least until the summer. I have some big exams that are getting scarily close, and I need to cut down on things-that-require-brain-space. I’ll be back soon. In the meantime, I’ve a pretty big archive by now! There’s plenty to keep you busy.)

And now some music: Hudson Taylor

Singing for StrangersThese guys are Irish, so I suppose I’m biased in their favour – maybe that’s why I feel the need to share. But whatever.

Harry and Alfie are brothers whose music I came across on Youtube. My sister bought their first album, Singing for strangers, last year; every song is distinctive and there is not one I don’t like. The songs tell stories, and the lyrics have actual meaning (“Put me in a box and tick it/don’t tell me I can’t be who I am”; “There’s no one hanging ’round since they ripped out the soul of the town.”) Also, I went to their concert in the Olympia (in Dublin) last May and it was an amazing night. The atmosphere was incredible; it was one heck of a show.

Obviously music is even more subjective than some of the other things I’ve recommended on here, so there’s no particular reason for you to agree with me. But do have a listen.

A few of my favourites are Battles, Care, Holly, and Weapons.

Hudson Taylor ticekts

Granny O’Grimm and some news

This little video is pure GOLD.

In this bedtime story by Brown Bag Films, an ominous, babysitting granny tells her own version of Sleeping Beauty; she seems to have a very personal connection with it. I saw this one a few years ago and I loved the sinister music, the appropriate thunder and lightning, the two different types of animation and the Irish-ness of it. Plus, fairytale retellings are always great.

Seriously, worth a watch, do enjoy.

(Also – news! A couple of weeks ago the lovely U.S. magazine Rookie published one of my poems. Rookie is super pretty and artsy and support-the-teenagers-y, and I’m really pleased to be a contributor. Also, this is my first time to have a poem published, so. 🙂 You can read it here. Hope you enjoy.)

“I Ship It” by Yulin Kuang – short film

I Ship It was one of the first short films I came across, and still my favourite of the ones I’ve seen. When I watched the Lizzie Bennet diaries originally (I recommended them on here a couple of months ago), I was especially struck by the performance of Mary Kate Wiles, who played Lydia. After I finished the diaries, I began to look at other things she had done, and that was how I came across I Ship It.

Directed by Yulin Kuang, the story follows a hardcore Harry Potter fan (I approve I approve) going through a break-up. Zoe teams up with her friend Charlie (dealing with his own break-up by dismantling an “ex-box” of memories) to beat her ex in a battle of the bands.

I loved the close friendship the two main characters had and I found them both very endearing. It was great how they chose (well, Zoe chose, Charlie was forced) to respond to tough times by being creative. The film was polished and pretty (there’s music throughout, they go to a park, there is a blue door/phone/hairbow and pleasing patterned wallpaper) and – of course – it was Cute. I mean, Cute is all you really need. Watch it here.

One of the favourite quotes:

“The battle of the bands is in five days. Taylor Swift can write two songs in one hour. We can do this…”

Something worth watching

“I’m gonna answer the questions that people always ask me, but with an honest twist.”

Just about every TED talk is worth watching if you have time, but “Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model” by Cameron Russell is one that has stuck out for me.

Question: “How’d you become a model?”

Truthful answer: “I won the genetic lottery, and I am the recipient of a legacy.”

After proving the power of image in the first minute of her talk, Russell dissects the legacy and industry from which she has benefitted, tactfully and with honesty: image is superficial, and yet, has a huge impact on our lives. Russell mentions racial discrimination (something that I really appreciated and thought brave, as a white woman discussing her own white privilege). She also very effectively explains that the cool happy image in the photo is not real, despite girls across the world thinking these pictures are what they should aspire to.

I would definitely recommend watching this talk, which you can find here. It’s entertaining, it’s well structured, it makes you think, and it’s less than 10 minutes long. What’s not to like?

Jane Austen, you say? …Lizzie Bennet and Emma Approved

I would not recommend watching either of these if you have a big deadline/state exam approaching, but these modern interpretations of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Emma are really rather fabulous. Both series take the classic Jane Austens and put them in a modern context, the stories told in vlog(video blog)-style by the main characters. Balls are replaced by house parties, rich landlords by rich businessmen and Bingley by Bing Lee.

I clicked on the first episode of Lizzie Bennet out of curiosity, the second because I had time to spare, and the fifteenth because I was hooked. Emma Approved was pretty much the same. I hadn’t planned to get into either of them, it just…happened somehow. Binging is so easy when the average episode is about four minutes long.

I loved seeing how different parts of the stories were modernised, and trying to figure out the less obvious links. There are also plenty of extras to be had if you need more, including sideline vlogs by Lydia Bennet and Harriet Smith. Such excitement.

You can watch the first episodes of Lizzie Bennet Diaries here and of Emma Approved here.