Two thumbs up for comedy trio

Dublin's sketch comedy kings Foil Arms and Hog have recently wowed crowds in America and Australia but this weekend they'll take to the stage in Armagh. They talk to Brian Campbell

HAVING seen madcap comedy trio Foil Arms & Hog a few times now, I can highly recommend them.

But why trust me when you can trust comedy greats Bill Bailey and Kevin Bridges? "Imaginative and really funny" is what Bailey has said of the three Dubliners, while Bridges described them as "talented performers" and "very, very funny".

So how did they manage to get such high-profile names to provide such praise? "Well we basically chased Bill Bailey down a corridor for a quote. We doorstepped him," laughs Sean Finnegan (aka Foil). "And we gigged a bit with Kevin Bridges in Kilkenny and Glasgow and places like that and he's a lovely guy. "But he gave us a really long and completely unusable quote. It was like 'Really funny, talented, good, hilarious and an all-round good show for everyone to see' so we felt a bit bad having to ask him for something a bit more concise." Completing the 'FAH' line-up is Conor McKenna (Arms) and Sean Flanagan (Hog).

While Foil and Arms were happy to talk to The Irish News ahead of their gig in Armagh this weekend, Hog was missing in action. "He's in Chicago at the moment. We got back the other day from Australia and he decided to come home the long way. He met a girl."

FAH have been going for six years and after conquering Ireland and regularly playing the Edinburgh Fringe, they are now a hit in the US too. "We started over in Chicago and that was so much fun. We didn't tweak anything and they went nuts. Except for the Stephen Fry reference - they didn't really get that," says Conor. "We did our shows in Chicago and then a three-day workshop at [famous comedy enterprise] Second City," adds Sean. "It was cool to walk around and see Steve Carell and Tina Fey and people like that on the walls."

Not to mention the likes of Bill Murray, John Belushi, John Candy, Dan Aykroyd, Fred Willard and Harold Ramis - all Second City Chicago alumni.

Sean says they didn't have to take too many "Irishisms" out of their sketches for the American audiences. "We've had a bit of experience from playing Edinburgh. At our first Edinburgh show we were saying 'sliced pan' but they don't say that there. They thought we were talking about a frying pan that was sliced up."

One of the troupe's funniest YouTube clips actually features a sliced pan - with Hog pitching 'new' advertising slogans for Brennan's bread. "We don't do that one on stage but people really seem to like it. Even if they don't know what Brennan's is, they seem to get it," says Sean.

The three guys met while studying at University College Dublin. "We were in the drama society and we did funny plays and came together to do sketches," says Conor.

And where did they get the stage name? "It came from nicknames after we

slagged each other about how we performed on stage," says Sean. "I got 'Foil' from 'comedic foil', because I play the boring straight guy; Conor is 'Arms' because he's all arms and legs and always wants to do physical comedy; then Sean Flanagan got 'Hog' because he used to steal all our good lines. So he'd hog the limelight."

The trio come to Armagh on Sunday as part of an Irish tour and they say they always enjoy heading north. "Yeah, every gig up north has been brilliant. We've played Daly's [in Omagh] and that's one of the best clubs we've played. We've also done The Empire and Queen's. I don't think we've had a bad gig in the north yet," says Conor.

So after their comedy workshops at the famous Second City theatre, should fans going to the Armagh gig expect a comedy masterclass? "I don't think people could raise their expectations high enough for just how good this show is going to be," laughs Sean.

* Foil Arms & Hog play the Market Place Theatre in Armagh on Sunday at 8pm. For tickets (£12), call 028 3752 1821 or see


Foil Arms & Hog