“I would say Cork was the greatest gig I've ever done in my life. It’s certainly my greatest memory of doing one”. It’s safe to say Mario Rosenstock loves performing in Cork, and looked forward to bringing his ‘Very Best of Gift Grub Live’ show to Cork Opera House this week. One part of the gig he enjoyed so much centres on how he left Cork.
“It was at Live At The Marquee, the noise and energy of three and a half thousand people was amazing and a lovely experience. We knew we had to get back to Dublin that night so our production manager said, “Mario, you're going to have to beat the traffic, because there’s gonna be hundred and hundreds of cars and taxis.” So we ended up coming up with the idea of relying on this video we use at the end, which says goodbye. It's kind of outtakes from the things that you did and it lasts about a minute and a half ago, while that was playing in the Marquee I was sprinting to the car while still dressed as Miriam O’Callahan in the dress and make up and wig. It was like the Elvis thing, ‘Miriam has left the building!’ We had two Garda outriders and we were accompanied up to the roundabout and they went, “you’re home free” and I remember thinking ‘what life am I living!”
Next year he will be celebrating 20 years of Gift Grub Live, where he has been doing his lauded and hilarious impersonations of people such as Miriam O’Callaghan, Michael Flatley, Daniel O’Donnell and Michael D Higgins, the guests of honour when the show is Leeside will of course be Ronan O’Gara and Roy Keane. Mario has always enjoyed coming to Cork. “I remember when I first started coming to perform in Cork, in every taxi I got into every driver was giving me his five minutes. They’d all say ‘I know you probably heard this before’ but for a change I wouldn’t have. Then the next driver, ‘I know you’ve probably heard this before’, and I wouldn’t know that joke either. I was thinking this is ‘F***king priceless’, they're all topping each other with their funniest five minutes. Hilarious. When I started doing Cork Opera House, the place just hopped off the roof when I came on stage, before I even had been spoken! It used to be that I’d come to Cork whilst touring, but in recent years I’ve said to MCD that I want to start in Cork. The audience gets it, it shows the material works and I feel like I'm in a friendly place, they don't want me to go wrong, then for the rest of the tour I'm home and hosed.
Mario has found that he has so much Cork-centric material that he even changes how he prepares for his shows here, ‘usually a live show of mine is 85% done at any given time, but that’s never the case in Cork, its maybe 70% because Cork is so laden with Gift Grub potential; the two obvious examples are ROG and Mr. Keane; there is so much I can do with them, I probably have more material down in Cork than anywhere. Obviously on the night there’ll be Bertie and Daniel and Enda and all that as well. Some sport, some politics, some celebrity, some social satire. I want the show to be for everybody. I want to sell five to six nights in the Opera House. Yeah, that's popular comedy broad with a little bit of a twist."
After a recent visit to Cork Mario has started trying a new character, who “might, maybe, perhaps” make it to the Cork Opera House stage. “I worked out this morning that I can do a pretty good Neil Prendeville, I hadn't realised before but I tried it this morning and people were going “oh, that's good.” So now I’m able to talk like him, but the next stage is writing something in his voice and do something on stage that will bring the house down!”
While the workload of writing material every day for Today FM as well as live stage shows is very intense, in a way Mario doesn’t find it stressful. “When you can fall in love with the process and don’t regard it as work, then you can sleep at night. I don't ever switch off… but that means it doesn’t feel like working either. I look at everything and I go ‘is there a possible sketch in this’; as long as I have got enough ideas to get me through the week then I’m all set. It’s almost like being a features writer in a newspaper, you know always looking for and idea for feature, that's me. I'm always looking at everything on TV, listening to the radio, reading whatever comes my way, talking to everyone I meet; and I look at everything going that's a potential sketch. And then I sleep like a baby and I wake up fresh.”
The Very Best Of Gift Grub Live shows at Cork Opera House from Tuesday, February 25, to Saturday, February 29, 2020. Tickets available now at www.corkoperahouse.ie