With RTÉ on the verge of losing its relevance, Jon Hozier-Byrne takes a look at its last hope for comedic credibility – the second series of The Savage Eye
Finally, we have a reason to pay our license fee. After the dire choices made by RTÉ in recent years (see; putting an economist as host of The Panel, or literally every decision made in the production of Fade Street [I will defend Fade Street until the death! – ed]), they’ve managed to find form again with The Savage Eye.
It’s fair to say that we at o-two didn’t have a huge amount of faith in series two of The Savage Eye. Dave McSavage’s stand-up style has always been based on audience interaction and his pervy rapport is often comedic Marmite to viewers. When you consider his unique style, along with RTÉ’s treatment of comedy as something of an afterthought, the show’s future prospects looked somewhat bleak. How wrong we were.
The Savage Eye’s season two opening was one of the funniest things on RTÉ television since Dustin took down Don Conroy on The Den. McSavage not only delivers a genuinely funny 25 minutes, but presents us with one of the most nationally self-aware critiques of the Irish people since Father Ted.
Each episode explores a particular idiosyncrasy of Irish people (starting with the increasingly topical: ‘Why are the Irish such natural criminals?’), and the result is what might be described as Ireland’s most biting social and political satire since the days of Myles Na gCopaleen. The baby-snatching priest, the homicidal Gardai, the homophobic publican – while all are genuinely funny and constitute some of the highlights. These sketches challenge Ireland’s political and social establishments in a way rarely seen on home-grown television. Most importantly, The Savage Eye’s ultimate success is largely as a result of the general public allowing it to continue.
This is a very long way from Bull Island. Perhaps most interestingly, The Savage Eye gives time to real academic and cultural figures that provide a social commentary between sketches, giving the show’s critical observations an air of documentary. This ingenious contrast between fact and farce only serves to make the successive sketches more outlandish and the satire more biting.
The Savage Eye is well worth a half hour of your Monday night, and if the rest of the series can follow the first episode’s stellar example, we all won’t feel quite so cheated when the next TV license bill rolls around.
The Savage Eye, Mondays, 9.50pm, RTE2.