‘I’m A Small Man Myself’

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B5bBNp7IQAEHmEL-1 Sunday Independent’s LIFE magazine on December 21, 2014

You may have seen the cover of LIFE magazine over the Christmas of comedian and mimic Oliver Callan depicting President Michael D Higgins, his wife Sabina and  presidential assistant assistant Kevin McCarthy.

In yesterday’s Sunday Independent, the Abbot of Glenstal Abbey, Mark Patrick Hederman wrote an opinion piece decrying the LIFE cover, stating:

“The idea that every home in Ireland should be subjected to this supposedly humorous depiction of the President, his wife and his assistant, Kevin McCarthy, seems to me to be a scandal that should cause shame to us all. This is no less than bullying and harassment in the workplace, which we are trying to phase out at every other level, but when it comes to the President and his wife, we seem to imply they are fair game. Such lampooning of our President, his wife, and his assistant can no longer pass as entertainment.”

Further to this, both Mr Callan and Mr Hederman spoke to Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One this morning.

Oliver Callan: “Satire mentions the elephant in the room and that’s what Charlie Hebdo’s done that’s what I’m doing aswell. To suggest that the President is so sensitive that he would feel this is bullying, I find that really hard to believe. I don’t make fun of people who are vulnerable, who don’t have the means to defend themselves. I also thought it was unfortunate by the way that the Abbot didn’t mention that he was a friend of the President, you know, he’s obviously very close to him. The President’s last book of poetry was dedicated to Mark Hederman as well and I thought that was unfortunate you didn’t raise that conflict of interest in your article yesterday but in fairness you’ve done it today.”

Mark Hederman: “No, there’s no conflict of interest in this. The fact that a friend of mine is being bullied is the exact reason why I should stand up and say, ‘enough is enough’.”

Callan: “But when you say ‘bullied’, how can you bully a president, someone who has the support of 1.2 million people who voted for him? Who has the admiration of the country? I mean it’s very difficult for someone like me to be…”

Hederman: “This, I’m afraid to say, it happens every single day in the workplace because, you mean. Look, I agree with you, some of what you do and some of what you say is extremely funny and I laugh at it immensely but when you go over the edge and start making insinuations about Kevin McCarthy and the President which is, kind of, you know, not stated but..”

Callan: “Well, I,  to be honest, I don’t know what you’re saying there cause I didn’t make insinuations about Kevin McCarthy, what I did raise is the very serious issue in this country and it was a very big issue in 2014 about cronyism and it was cronyism that a man, who drove the President around in the election, had a role invented for him, a taxpayers’ role, as executive assistant, a role which didn’t previously exist in the McAleese administration and that’s all I was suggesting in that. I don’t know what else you’re suggesting in anything I wrote.”

Hederman: “Right. Well, you are the one who’s gaining I don’t know how many members of your audience, because the suggestion is much more than that in what you’re..”

Callan: “You’re drawing conclusions more than what I’m saying.”

Hederman: “Maybe, well, I am, maybe.”

Sean O’Rourke: “We’ve heard the Abbot say, already Oliver Callan, that there’s no basis for any insinuation that may be read into, are you willing to accept that?”

Callan: “Absolutely, I mean the President has the defence of defamation like any citizen in the country.”

Later

Callan: “I’m a small man myself and I don’t find it’s something to be insecure about.”

Listen back in full here

Previously: Aide Decamps

This Cannot Innuendo Well

85 thoughts on “‘I’m A Small Man Myself’

    1. Lorcan Nagle

      To be fair, there’s at least some evidence Jesus really existed, and he was almost certianly nailed to a cross.

      Pedantry aside, I’m always wary of someone who gets offended on the behalf of someone else like this. The President is a public figure and certainly commands a level of respect, and I seriously doubt Callan would call him shortarse to his face or anything.

      Tim Minchin put it best:

      “If you actually do take any time to think about this notion of sacredness, you very quickly stumble upon the truth that sacredness isn’t held inside objects or people or institutions that are held sacred, but rather in the minds, the collective minds, of those who have come to believe or have been taught to believe that they’re sacred. And that’s actually fine, you know? That’s your human right, to hold sacred what you will. If you want to imbue earthly objects with supernatural agency that’s your right, and for that matter I would do a shitty placard and march beside you in the streets to defend your right to hold sacred what you will but I personally don’t think that that means you get to tell other people what they should hold sacred. I don’t think you get to tell me what historical figures I can or cannot satirise in cartoon form and I don’t think you get to tell me who I may or may not criticise and what language I’m allowed to use when criticising them, because if there’s one thing that history has taught us, it’s that if too many people hold a thing or a person or an institution sacred then they are by definition beyond criticism. And unfortunately, it seems as if when humans get beyond criticism, they seem to slip inexorably towards corruption.”

      1. Jess

        “o be fair, there’s at least some evidence Jesus really existed, and he was almost certainly nailed to a cross.”

        There isn’t really. The sources for the historicity of Jesus are based on the fact that there are christians. The closest source is Josephus but even that is taking his existence for granted. There are no contemporary accounts of Jesus’ existence.Btw Im not saying he didn’t exist, just that the evidence that he did is not very good.

      2. JimmytheHead

        Lorcan there isnt enough toilet paper in the world to wipe up the sh*te that just dribbled out of your face-bum. Quoting Tim “all I am is a haircut” Minchin – one of the least funny comedians ever to be over repeated constantly on late evening paramount – was the cherry on top.

        1. Lorcan Nagle

          Well, so long as you’ve got a rational and well thought out response, all’s well in the world.

          1. Lorcan Nagle

            1: I said there was evidence that he existed, not that I believed he existed

            2: I never said I thought he was the son of God.

          2. Lorcan Nagle

            A careful inspection of my initial post will reveal that I didn’t express an opinion on anything to do with divinity.

  1. Mr. T.

    Callan produces obvious character based satire, stamped and approved by RTE and the Establishment.

    The very tired old slagging off of Michael D. Higgins and the suggestion that he is having a gay relationship is nothing more than the centre right jumped up car salesman brigade in Ireland trying to undermine an intellectual and socially minded President. He is highly regarded by other diplomats.

    They wanted a door to door salesman special offer race to the bottom gobshite in there instead. Someone who wouldn’t have the slightest bit of knowledge of history or politics outside of what he learned from Hollywood blockbusters.

    Some people want Ireland to be a massive office park full of people behind desks making money for a few billionaires.

    Others want a real country and a society with a complexity of culture, learning, industry and a plan for the future for all people.

    1. YourNan

      ” office park full of people behind desks making money”, that’s who’s paying for your welfare while you try out your “career” in the arts, pet; don’t forget that.

  2. bisted

    …any respect I had for Squee evaporated when he rubber stamped the Water Legislation. The Abbot sounds like a good old-fashioned catholic dogmatist….they can both FRO.

    1. Jess

      Im pretty tired of the argument. You know he had no choice in the matter right? He can only refuse to sign it if he thinks its unconstitutional.

      I’m as against the water charges at anyone but criticising Michael D over that just shows people don’t understand what the president is.

      1. The Old Boy

        Exactly. And he can’t outright refuse to sign it if he thinks it unconstitutional, rather he can engage an Article 26 reference to the Supreme Court. If they give it the all clear, he must sign.

      2. bisted

        …at the end of the day he shows that he comes from the same Labour gene pool polluted by his colleagues Burton, Rabbitte, Quinn, Gilmore and Howlin. Power and pension at any price. At the very least he could have convened the Council of State to reflect the disquiet of most of the population.

        1. Jess

          You…you don’t know what the president is!

          You only convene the council of state if the president thinks it might be unconstitutional. There is nothing in that bill that even gives a vague inkling of being unconstitutional. All you would be doing is wasting money, and the bill does quite enough of that already.

          1. bisted

            …what would Mary Robinson have done? We’ll never know that but she won the respect many because of her independance. Squee seemed to carry that same mantle where social justice would be paramount – albeit within the limitations of his office. Instead he has rubber stamped legislation with the same undue haste that it was railroaded through the Dail without sufficient debate or consideration.

          2. Jess

            What about this are you missing?

            The president cant do anything about that. The same way a constitutional lawyer is not allowed put out forest fires.

            “squee seemed to carry that same mantle where social justice would be paramount – albeit within the limitations of his office. ”

            Repeat

            ‘limitations of office’
            ‘limitations of office’
            ‘limitations of office’

          3. bisted

            …we are blessed therefore, with your pressence and can benefit from the vast expanse of your knowledge – on apparently every subject.

    2. Jordofthejungle

      The President is duty and constitutionally bound to sign legislation in much the same way as the Queen. He doesn’t have a veto on legislation and cannot rule by decree. His powers are limited to making an Article 26 reference re the constitutionality of legislation.

      Had he refused to sign, it would have provoked a constitutional crisis and an undermining of the very nature of the state.

      1. Lorcan Nagle

        While I don’t think he should necessarily have done it – would a constitutional crisis have been all that bad a thing? It’s clear that an increasing number of people are very unhappy with the way this country is run right now, and it goes beyond the usual party lines.

        1. Jordofthejungle

          In this instance, yes, as it would constitute the President effectively usurping the powers and prerogatives of the Oireachtas and undermining the separation of powers.

          That is not to suggest that the manner in which the legislation was passed is open to criticism. If this is to be remedied it is by the Oireachtas of the day and not by a Presidential solo-run giving two fingers to the separation of powers.

          How would you feel if a President Ganley refused to sign legislation passed by the Oireachtas allowing for abortion in the case of fatal foetal abnormality?

          1. Lorcan Nagle

            And that’s why I said I didn’t necessarily agree that the bill shouldn’t have been signed. The problems go well beyond Irish Water – it’s not that this specific issue is what;s wrong with the country, but it is the straw that’s broke the camel’s back for many people.

            The parties aren’t going to undertake a mass reform of the political system in Ireland by choice, so maybe something shocking has to happen.

  3. Mr. T.

    Donkey O’Rourke. Send him back to late night Oireachtas Report where he belongs. He’s a mouthy one dimensional low brow defender of centre-right politics.

    1. gallantman

      If you are tired of listening to this overpaid, toe-the -line, dull, middle brow, middle aged bore you can always move the dial and listen to Pat instead.

    1. gallantman

      Meanwhile, a tanker carrying ammonium has crashed into and a truck taking pandas to the zoo. There was an outbreak of pandamonium in the area.

    1. bruce01

      The question is not whether it is bullying or unacceptable, it is whether it is funny. It isn’t. And it’s hardly satire. Michael D. is small! Take that establishment.

    1. Draxx Ltd II

      Who is also awful to be fair. No wit or sense of comedy, just dressing up and saying things in funny voices. Kind of thing your only your children and grandparents would find funny.

    1. gallantman

      When Callan was criticised for slagging of Paul Galvin as gay he defended it by outing himself. Now he’s saying himself as small in defence of this joke. Where does that end??

      1. Soundings

        “When Callan was criticised for slagging off Paul Galvin as gay he defended it by outing himself. ”

        Now, that’s what I call top class impersonation!

    1. gallantman

      In fairness, Mr Hederman only buys it for the GAA results, the death notices and to see what Georgia Salpa’s wearing.

  4. Jordofthejungle

    Callan performed the same sort of sketch a while back on Callan’s kicks involving Senator Ronan Mullen.

    Mullen is portrayed as a sort of high-camp Gollum clutching the Constitution which he refers to in vehement terms as “my precious”. The sketch involved David Quinn and Mullen lamenting the liberal assault on the Constitution. Mullen, much to Quinn’s annoyance, kept putting his hand on Quinn’s lap as he got more and more exercised with Quinn constantly entreating him to take it off.

    In fairness to Callen, liberals are equally the subject of his satire, Bacik, Burton et al in much the same vein.

    Surely recent events should inform us that not even the President is above satire.

  5. stev

    Low quality impersonations of political figures have passed for satire for too long in Ireland. We seem to be stuck with a bunch of Mike Yarwoods (there’s one for the teenagers) when we need some real humour.

  6. GiGi

    Excuse my ignorance but I can name tons of leading Hollywood men who are in and about the same height as the President including the number one earning actor in Hollywood Tom Cruise. There’s Cillian Murphy, al Pachino, Michael J Fox, Daniel Radcliffe, Johnny Galecki (The Bog Bang Theory for anyone who’s not a fan), Elijah Wood, Danny Devito, Woddy Allen, Emilio Estevez, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr, Ben Stiller, Mark Wahlberg,

    I saw a documentary once which outlined that men of a certain stature are desirable in movies for technical issues… Something about being able to frame a man equally to a woman so the the camera can get both together. Some famous director was discussing it.
    Oh and this is an A-list which I would include our president in for sure because of his calibre as a works leader.

    Oliver Callan on the other hand is Z-list at best (the cover of that publication being further proof) and I don’t find the man in the least bit talented. It’s just my opinion….

    1. andyourpointiswhatexactly

      Ah, now. Michael D is 5 foot 4. Only Danny Devito is smaller out of that lot. You’re not comparing like with like, mostly.

  7. andyourpointiswhatexactly

    I ran out of steam after season 2, but RTE2 are showing so much of it in their ads that I now know all the plot twists. I couldn’t be hooped sitting through season 3 now.
    ps Chambord Black Raspberry liqueur is manky.

  8. Alan Sherry

    I’d actually have a bit of sympathy for Oliver Callan if he was funny but he’s not. I personally find some of his “satire” to be on the nasty side.

    1. Anne

      But he’s mentioning the elephant in the room or something and he’s doing what Charlie Hebdo does. Ha.
      Anyway, tis all the one when you’re horizontal.

      1. SADDo

        What elephant in the room? Do you mean there’s a whiff of “he’s good with the herbaceous border plants” off these sketches?

  9. Mr Worf

    Personally think Callan’s a very talented satirist.
    But even if I didn’t, the petty disgust at Michael D lampooning is really nauseating.
    And just for that, and to restore order to the universe (not trolling) I’ll just say he’s just some boring leftie poet affecting a regal air, with a publicly funded “executive assistant”… He’s a legitimate extremely highly paid target, at the centre of establishment and doesn’t regularly perform miracles or shit gold. Why do people insist on lionising this fatuous little man?

    Also, given recent events people should think before decrying satire.

    1. bisted

      …Michael D has shown himself to be another toothless Labour factotum carrying out the Governments wishes without a whimper. Like the Government he has failed to recognise the public mood or chose to ignore it. He may find that his future engagements with that public may not be as warm as they had been heretofore

  10. Propernow

    satire , when it is so deeply misunderstood as i see all too often in this country just reminds me, shouldnt we be talking less about rubbishing satire / twerking / popstars and all associated distractions and get to the fact that we dont discuss white collar crime and what is still being tolerated in 2015?

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