On Friday, March 14th, The City Opera House in downtown Traverse City will host the Irish Comedy Tour.
So what exactly is the Irish Comedy Tour? Derek Richards, the mastermind behind the March 14th performance, says it’s kind of a combo platter of songs and humor. “It’s like an Irish pub and a comedy show put together in a food processor,” said Richards. “With inappropriate jokes.”
Richards grew up in Detroit, while fellow comic Mike McCarthy is from Boston. Both comics’ forebears hailed from Ireland, while musicians Damon Leibert and Derrick Keane are natives of the Emerald Isle. The quartet mix and match jokes and songs, sometimes mashing the two together.
“Damon is 5’4”. He’s a classically trained fiddle player, four years at Berklee (College of Music). We put him in a leprechaun outfit,” said Richards. You can almost hear his smirk over the phone. “It makes for a fun party atmosphere.”
The show got its start in Florida, of all places. Richards was approached to put together a comedy show, and decided to invite his pal McCarthy. They decided to concentrate on comedy derived from their common ethnic background, and added Irish music to round things out. Now the tour travels the U.S. Richards says the East Coast and Midwest are particularly well-suited to the group’s antics.
Richards says Irish humor derives in part from the many difficulties faced by Irish people over the years. In the U.S. the Irish were often discriminated against. “They were outcasts, really ostracized,” he said. Richards says no matter the ethnicity of those in the audience, everyone recognizes those hard times and can relate to them. “Germans, Poles, really anyone,” he said.
Richards says the music of Keane and Leibert gives the show something other comedy tours can’t compete with: the feel of a typical night at an Irish pub, where everyone is welcome and everything’s a party. “It’s the upbeat St. Patrick’s party tunes,” said Richards. “Derrick does a brilliant job of it. He’s used to that environment.”
While he now calls Las Vegas home, Richards grew up in Detroit and keeps tabs on his home state. “Playing in Michigan is always like a homecoming for me,” he said. He’s played the City Opera House twice before with the Irish Comedy Tour. He says this show will be different than previous ones, as Leibert and Keane haven’t played there before. “We always have a great time there. It’s like coming home,” Richards said. “We feel like we’re doing a show in our living room.”