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The first time Irish comedian Brendan O'Carroll (below) appeared in mainland Britain it was in front of 40 people in Kilmarnock. The last time he was here, he sold out the Lyric, Hammersmith.

On this side of the water we have been slow to catch on to the man routinely described as "Ireland's No 1 Comedian'' - no doubt because he has yet to bow down to the great god Television over here. His last performance in New York attracted an audience of 8,500, and his shows in the Emerald Isle last year were attended by more than 120,000 people. His first video - the memorably titled How's Your Wobbly Bits? - has become the biggest seller of all time in Ireland, while his novel, The Mammy, has spent two months as the country's No 1 book.

His life has been like one long trial-run for the sort of observational material he specialises in. The youngest of the 11 children of MP Maureen O'Carroll, he left school in Dublin at the age of 13 to become a waiter - a job he continued with until four years ago. Capped at schoolboy and youth levels, he went on to play First Division football.

This experience no doubt stood him in good stead when he was called up to be the Irish footy squad's court jester at the World Cup last summer. Any man who can survive weeks in the company of those boys with his sense of humour intact must be something out of the ordinary.

Brendan O'Carroll plays Caesars Palace, Luton (01582 491010) tonight, and the Hazlitt Theatre, Maidstone (01622 758611) tomorrow