Graham Norton dubs LOL: Last One Laughing Ireland ‘one of my favourite jobs’

Graham Norton in a phone box pretending to use a phone.
Graham Norton at the premier of LOL: Last One Laughing in Dublin.

It’s not every day you’re offered the chance to rub shoulders with a broadcasting legend. So safe to say when I was offered the opportunity to travel to Dublin for the launch of Amazon Prime’s brand new Irish original series LOL: Last One Laughing, hosted by television and talk show royalty Graham Norton, I jumped at the chance.

After walking the blue carpet, we received a warm welcome from a few “traditional Irish grannies” who successfully encouraged us to dive into the vast array of treats on offer including sausage rolls, crisp sandwiches and Tunnock’s tea cakes. Then, it wast time to take our seats and settle in to watch the first two episodes of LOL: Last One Laughing Ireland.

The format has already proven successful in Japan, Germany, Sweden, Italy and Australia. Now it is our turn to showcase our comedy and craic.

The new six-part series sees Graham Norton swapping the famous red chair of his chat show for a red card as he presides over the LOL: Ireland house from his bank of cameras surveying every last inch of the set which help him keep a close eye on 10 of Ireland’s top comedians as they enter one by one, all hoping they will have the last laugh.

The comedic crew consists of Aisling Bea, Amy Huberman, Catherine Bohart, David McSavage, Deirdre O’Kane, Emma Doran, Jason Byrne, Martin Angolo, Paul Tylak and Tony Cantwell - who spends a surprising amount of time walking around in a skintight bright green full body suit…

Tony Cantwell is dressed in a skin tight black, Lycra  body suit with fluffy leg warmers on and a pair of ears in order to resemble a cat.
Comedian Tony Cantwell during production of LOL: Last One Laughing Ireland.

The aim of the game is for each comedian to do everything they can to make their competitors laugh or smile over the course of a six-hour period - and if you laugh, you lose. For those who do let out even the faintest chuckle Graham will issue either a yellow card as a warning or a red card for total elimination until only one is left. The winner will walk away with €50,000 for their chosen charity but will also be known as the most “miserable sod in Ireland”, according to Jason Byrne.

“When you hear the aim of the show is for people not to laugh, then you think “How will that be funny? It is just people in silence.” But it turns out it is really funny,” explains Norton.

“There are breaks in between, with the yellow card or red card and hilarity ensues but then we all take it very seriously again.”

Cast of LOL: Last One Laughing standing together for a press picture.
Aisling Bea, Amy Huberman, Catherine Bohart, Deirdre O'Kane, Emma Doran, Graham Norton, Jason Byrne, Martin Angolo, Paul Tylak and Tony Cantwell pictured at the Premiere of LOL: Last One Laughing Ireland at the Dublin Royal Convention Centre, in Dublin on Friday

The break from seriousness was emphasised during the preview as floodlights had been placed at either side of the screen and would flash red when Graham hit a red button, stopping the game to issue a card and green when he hit a green button to restart it. He was able to do this from the comfort of his control room where he watches everything play out in real time, adding to what was already an immersive viewing experience.

“I did look like a Bond baddie, plotting the end of the world,” he added.

“It took a few minutes to get used to it, because I was by myself in this room, and the comics are in the other bit of the house, and we’re all used to having an audience.

“So, all of that was a bit unsettling. But then there was so much to watch, because I’m seeing it from every single angle on a big bank of screens. It was like my dream job, it was watching telly for six or seven hours.

“It genuinely has been one of my favourite jobs.”

Host of LOL: Last One Laughing Ireland, Graham Norton issuing a red card.
Host of LOL: Last One Laughing Ireland, Graham Norton issuing a red card

With rounds of witty repartee, perverse props, ingenious innuendo and good old fashion slapstick, the show is silliness personified. That combined with a mix of comedy styles from both household names and up and coming talent blends together to create something fresh but also extremely funny.

“I was plucked from obscurity as a nightclub comedian and when I got to work with all these people I respect, like Aisling Bea and Graham Norton and the rest of the cast - it was a great opportunity,” said Martin Angolo.

There’s also a refreshing sense of anticipation when watching the series, as anything could happen - including surprising and cameo appearances from a multitude of celebrities all hoping to help crack one of the comedians. From the meticulous set design to the special guests it is clear no expense has been spared.

“Basically, the subtext of this whole show and to everyone in Ireland who’s watching it is the budget,” joked Kildare comedian Aisling Bea.

Image of a woman on the phone.
Kildare comedian Aisling Bea at the premier of LOL: Last One Laughing in Dublin.

The launch event was hosted by media personality Vogue Williams, who valiantly attempted to control a gaggle of giggling comics. Between failing to receive a clear coherent answer from any of them to accidentally revealing who was the first to be eliminated, the question-and-answer session was endearingly chaotic...

However, as the show itself thrives off funny yet awkward interactions the Q&A still managed to hit the right note.

Prime Video’s first Irish original series, LOL: Last One Laughing Ireland launches on January 19 on Prime Video