Don’t Make Unnecessary Journeys

7th December 2015

The commentary section of YouTube videos can be a land of bores, buffoons and cribbers. The Internet’s anonymity brings a certain lack of charity to the fore in us. In normal life, we are gifted with the power to lie and to be polite during social interactions. In YouTube land, all bets are off.

There are, however, exceptions. Sometimes I scroll through the mayhem of commentary under a favourite video and arrive upon a gem: an insightful observation, often brief, that nails exactly what makes my video so damned watchable.

That was the case this morning, as I paged through commentary (both bland and, in fairness, positive) for a snippet of RTE journalist’s recent Storm Report from Galway city.

Teresa Mannion had stood in the rain and wind in Salthill, Galway and explained, to the anchor back in studio, the effects that storm Desmond had been having on the Irish west coast. The result was an unexpected masterpiece of live television. And yet, I struggled to express exactly why. Why was it at once both funny and endearing? Why did it feel a celebration of the journalist as well as a send up of journalism?

The commenter I landed upon seemed to explain it all, in a remark of precisely three words.

‘Oh, the humanity!’

I paused. That was it. That is why I have viewed Mannion’s report and the subsequent parodies on a loop for 24 hours, and she there, with her hat wringing in the rain.

I have become increasingly curious about comedy. What makes something funny? What makes wit witty? And how is it that we can see immediately when someone tries too hard?

To ponder such questions, Teresa’s weather report is a fun lab rat to dissect.

Of course, the first thing is that she did not mean it to be funny at all. Next is that her co-host in studio did not let on we were all witnessing a moment of high camp. It seems to me that two realities existed at once: Teresa giving a storm report in an audio universe that convinced Teresa it was one hell of a storm. The other reality was for us at home, where, through the magic of woolly outdoor mics, all we heard was a half crazy woman shouting, with dripping makeup, and beside herself with frantic entreaties not to make unnecessary car journeys. Simultaneously we both knew what we were meant to see, and knew what we saw.

The layers of strangeness and camp somehow penetrated deeply into an Irish sense of humour, and the report and subsequent riffs have been viewed over half a million times in the last two days. Many of those hits were me. I sat there watching, beside myself with laughter. And I mean, uncontrollable.

Lovers of comedy take delight in the emergence of new talent. Far away from Crossmolina, on the Dingle Peninsula, the witty guys of Super Céilí amplified Teresa’s report by layering it with a further ridiculous juxtaposition: electronic dance music. The Teresa Remix was born. And all of this within 36 hours of the live report airing.

And so it was that a dreary Sunday, caught in the midst of a dreary winter deluge, became elevated to something special. The blandness of a bad weather story came face-to-face with a reporter’s effervescent humanity. The moment transcended itself, delivering a heartwarming gift to Irish comedy, ready to be rolled out every time a storm brews, west of Crossmolina.

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