ARDAL O'HANLON may be a household name after his role in the hugely popular sitcom, Father Ted, but he insists audiences are still surprised by what they see on stage.

The Irish funnyman developed an army of fans across the UK after bursting onto our screens as Father Dougal McGuire in the hit Channel 4 comedy, which followed the misadventures of three Catholic priests living on the fictional parish of Craggy Island.

But as he prepares for a first visit to Dunfermline next month as one of a number of star names to perform in the That's Fife Comedy Festival, O'Hanlon is keen to provide laughs in a completely different way to the small screen character that thrust him into the limelight.

Father Ted, which ran for three series in the mid-nineties, followed the hilarious tales of Father Ted Crilly (Dermot Morgan), Father Jack Hackett (Frank Kelly) and O'Hanlon's naive and childlike character, who was asked whether he had managed to enter the church through a "collect 12 packets of crisps and become a priest" promotion on account of having no understanding of Catholicism.

Following his success in the show – and the BBC sitcom 'My Hero' – the softly spoken comic from County Monaghan became a TV favourite but speaking to Press:ON, he said that bringing stand-up – and an element of curiosity – to audiences is something he "can't imagine life without".

"I've tried to put some distance between my stand-up and TV roles but audiences are still surprised by me," he said.

"There is an element of curiosity because they're not really sure what to expect. When you go to see Frankie Boyle – who I am a huge fan of – you know what to expect but a lot of people who know me because of Father Ted don't when they come to see me. It is a bit of a challenge; people want to be entertained but it's the stand-up's job to deliver. One of the joys of it is that an alter-ego takes over; off stage I'm quiet and mild-mannered but on stage I'm larger than life and a totally different person. That's fun.

"I'm 50 now and at an age where I enjoy it more than I did in the past. It has always been part of my DNA and I can't imagine life without it; when you create something and it works, it is a tremendous release. You have to be a bit nuts to do stand-up but it's always great to get stuff off your chest and try to make people laugh. You can say what's on your mind and your view of the world and relate to people, which is why I think it's so popular because people get it."

O'Hanlon continued: "When I was at university and first started to perform, I got a kick out of it but I wanted to write, which is a huge part of stand-up anyway. My friends and I started up a comedy club in Dublin with no real vision or career prospects; it was something to pass the time but I realised I could do it. The next step was to go to London and I got quite handy at it but I never thought about a TV career or anything like that.

"As I've gotten older, my stand-up became more lively; when I started I was quite static and used a lot of one-liners, but you get bolder, more comfortable on stage and more assertive. The more relaxed you are and the more the audience can see you're confident in what you're doing – or they think you know what you're doing – they go with it a bit more.

"This is a new show and bit more loose to what I've done in the past; there's a real mix from reflections over the last 50 years of my life to a broad range of topics like relationships, kids and society. There is a political sub-text because audiences want your view of the world but they're also looking for personality.

"One of the attractions is playing in different places and to a new audience; I played in Kirkcaldy before but never in Dunfermline, so I'm looking forward to coming back to the Kingdom."

Ardal O'Hanlon, with support from Michael Redmond, who played Father Stone in Father Ted, will be on stage at the Carnegie Hall on Friday, April 22.

Tickets cost £17.50 and can be bought by calling the Carnegie Hall box office on 01383 602302, or by visiting

The month-long comedy festival, which runs from April 1-30, will also see star names such as Ed Byrne, Nina Conti and Fred MacAulay perform, and a full programme is available at