Hal Roach, prominent Irish comedian, is born in Waterford on November 4, 1927. He spends over 60 years in show business, and is featured in the Guinness Book of Records for the longest-running engagement of a comedian at the same venue: 26 years at Jury’s Irish Cabaret, Jury‘s Ballsbridge Hotel, Dublin.
Born John Roach, he attends the Manor C.B.S. school. He begins his career after winning a local talent competition as a boy soprano. He initially tours with an illusionist and specialises in magic, but later moves to comedy. Roach has been cited as a major influence by other comedians such as Brendan Grace.
A couple of typical Hal Roach jokes go like this:
“He told me that I have a cult following, at least I think that’s what he said.”
“There is a man sitting in the middle of the road casting his fishing line… now none of us is perfect, but c’mon! So I asked him, ‘How many have you caught today?’ He said, ‘You’re the ninth.'”
Perhaps his most famous catchphrase is “Write it down, it’s a good one!”
Roach is popular particularly with American tourists visiting Ireland. His act plays heavily on traditional tourist imagery of Ireland and on Irish jokes. Several of his shows have been released on cassette and CD, and they are popular with tour bus drivers in several English-speaking countries who play them to passengers to help pass the time between destinations.
After suffering from a long bout of ill health, Roach dies on February 28, 2012. The following month, RTÉ broadcasts a tribute to Roach in one of its graveyard slots, a repeat airing of a programme from the That’s Entertainment series first broadcast in 1972.