Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Once, twice, three times an Irishman- by guest contributor Keith Farnan

Comedian Keith Farnan gives the Irish perspective on the Once Oscars night victory

It was simple. Turn up. Sing. Win.
In fairness, not even the occupants of the furthest corner of Never Never Land, or in the corner of the Far Far Away Pub, (right next to the career of that Greys Anatomy Guy) really believed that Enchanted was going to sweep the Best Song Oscar. Ireland finally had it in the bag. We had it. Just one, mind you.

The British Press were pounding it into our star-claiming heads, that DD-L was theirs. We still claim him, he lives here, he loves here, and he has the fiery soul of an Irishman arriving from the depths of the sea to find last orders have been called. Drink your milkshake. All milkshakes. Everywhere. He’s ours, and we’re not giving him back, but in the eyes of the British Press, his birth in a London hospital lays some absurd claim. So we’ll call it a draw. McGarvey was bringing up the rear with Atonement’s cinematography, which was a stunning achievement, groundbreaking. Did you, any of you, see one branch jutting out of the pretty, wooden Keira?…No! Stunning.

So this was it. Best Song category. We can sing, the Irish, we know that, the world knows that. Granted, we haven’t won the Eurovision in years, but it had bled our economy dry, so we threw it away and Riverdance arrived with the celtic tiger on its back. But the Irish have never won in this category. The Tax Evading Quartet formally known as U2, had a go for the Gangs of New York, but they went down in the first round to the punchy Slim Shady. Accompanying a remarkable and understated acting debut, "Lose Yourself", 8 Mile’s searing theme song, won easily. It was like Raging Bull versus Barnyard. Don’t forget the debt we owe to Slim. For he did rescue us from the sloppish cartoonish hell of the previous 11 years, where 8 of the winners were from Animated Features and the only people to get a look-in were the heavyweight trio of Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Andrew Lloyd Webber. OK, some of you have the nerve to raise an eyebrow and ask about the ship film. But that was a cartoon, people!: spiritually, physically, emotionally, financially. That was Bluto shoving Popeye’s head under the water and Olive Oil clinging on, and on, and on. And Billy Zane. Judas!

Everyone who loves cinema hates musicals. Mention Chicago and see the cineaste cry, Grease, and watch the buff balk, Sound of Music, and see the fan flay himself alive. But Once was different, inviting, warm, genuine, jesus it was a beautiful poetic simple bit of work and we did it, and we could hardly believe it, even though it looked like something off of youtube. Falling Slowly is a beautiful song, simply rendered in a wonderfully played and written story. Never before have I wished a man sing me a song but ah Glen, you had me at "I…" Everyone had a Bono Story, now they have a Glen story. Mine was years ago in a lovely pub called Whelans, where I threatened to kill him if he gave up music. So Glen and myself, we’re like brothers aren’t we Glen, Glen? Come here to me sit down and listen, Glen old buddy, old pal. The film grew. It flew without money, with word of mouth sending it around the world. There were festivals, clips of you and your co-star Marketa playing together at screenings. It looked like you got the girl as well. Whispers of awards, plaudits from around the globe, more than you could wish for, and just when you thought Frank Capra had finished scriptwriting duties in the great scriptwriting place in the sky: an Oscar nomination. Against Lightweights. You were Eminem to their Bono. Turn up. Sing. Win.

We waited; the entire country on the brink. We were going with you. We would be there. Glued. Well in fairness, most people would catch it on the Highlights, we weren’t staying up till the wee hours to watch a sure thing, but the feeling was there. So, the night went on and the song was announced. There was a tremble in the voice and a nervousness that passed. There was a worrying look of a suit that seemed to have crawled from Angelas Ashes costume department to LA, via the Quiet man, but somehow it didn’t look too disreputable, and the guitar was a bit banjoed, but we forgave that as it was the lucky guitar…But Jaysus!!! Where did that orchestra come from? It’s just the two of them, leave it well alone, but no, no, it’s ok, they’re playing quietly, and respectfully, and you lads, you pass with flying colours.

Then the moment of truth; the envelope is opened by John Travolta; Vince Vega, Mr. Saturday Night Fever. It’s a surreal and wonderful moment; only a short intake of breath and the right name is announced. You’re up Glen and here's the first indication that you are truly Irish. There is a beautiful woman next to you, co-star, etc… You lean right past her, and hug, we presume, your mammy. A nice touch. But then instead of gently turning your mammy away, while you snog the bejaysus off the fine lady, you walk off down the carpet. And the world pauses in its drinking of late night cocoa as it tries to take in what just happened. Bounding on stage, you raise your fist in celebration. But you shake it at the audience, a little bit too aggressively.

Prizes in hand and it’s speeches time. You appear to be giving room, to allow the lady to go first, but instead you are preparing to swing your rather un-chivalrous arse before the mic, and before Marketa has time to say "Is that an elbow in my windpipe?" you’re off with a few words of gaelic. The speech is dutifully humble, and heartfelt, but ends on the wrong note, "Make Art", to the empty sound of crickets polishing up their CV’s for your next public appearance in Hollywood. Before Marketa can breathe a word the band has played and you’ve escorted her from the stage.

The man of the evening, the true man for all seasons, somehow pulls off a first in Oscars history. John Stewart announces the return of an Oscar Winner to the stage. Unheard of, undreamt of, how Halle Berry must have gnashed her teeth at the lost opportunity to come out and say, "Ah now I was a bit of a mess there". How Adrien Brody must have glared at this newcomer thinking how he could have made off with the night. In the simplest most gentlemanly of gestures, Stewart brings Marketa out who gets to speak her words, her mind, her heart, and the world melts. It would have been nice if her co-star had come out to stand and support. But he didn’t.
Turn up. Sing. Win.

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