Hollywood is overflowing with former comedians turned big-screen stars: Steve Martin, Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd. One of the few still to deign to perform live is Bill Murray. This Canadian-born comic, like John Belushi and so many others, graduated with honours from the Saturday Night Live Academy of Comedy, where he honed his trademark hacked-off cynic routine. He has put that rumpled, world-weary look to great use in films from Tootsie (where his jaded demeanour acts as the perfect foil to Dustin Hoffman's bumptiousness), to Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day (in which his exasperation is exacerbated by the marvellous device of having him relive the same day - kickstarted by Sonny and Cher's "I Got You, Babe" - over and over again).
Murray (right) makes a rare live appearance on this side of the Atlantic, headlining The Murphy's Cat Laughs Comedy Festival at Kilkenny in the Republic of Ireland, which runs from today until Monday. For five shows, he is teaming up with his brothers, Joel Murray and Brian Doyle-Murray, and Katherine O'Hara, and topping a first-rate bill that also features Sean Hughes, Eddie Izzard, Greg Proops, Ardal O'Hanlon, Mark Lamarr, Alan Davies, Felix Dexter, Rich Hall, Donna McPhail, Owen O'Neill, Fred MacAulay and John Shuttleworth. A bank holiday weekend in Ireland which promises equal measures of craic and comedy. Very heaven.
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