Copping for the coffers

Copper face jacks is renowned for its cheesy music, flirtatious banter, inappropriate groping and questionable dance moves, but now the Dublin nightclub has something it can actually be proud of, its €6.81mn pre-tax profit last year.  That’s a lot of Jägerbombs right there.

The profits are similar to the previous year when All-Ireland winning captain Bryan Cullen told fans they’d “See you all in Coppers” after lifting the Sam Maguire in September 2011.

But what is it about the hotspot that gathers hundreds of (mostly drunken) people to the Harcourt Street location every single night of the week? We went out on the streets of Dublin to try and answer this question for ourselves.

Caroline Sheridan, 23, said “The atmosphere is unreal; you just know you’re going to have a good time if you go there”.

Ailish White 25, said “When I used to go there it was all about the music for me and my friends. It’s so cheesy and you can have a good dance. Where else would you get the spice girls and backstreet boys on a Saturday night?”

John McKeon, 23, said “A lot of it has to do with the name. It’s a trend to go there. People have been going for years and will be going in years to come, because of the name”.

Sarah Griffin, 21, said “No matter what day you go, you are bound to see someone you know. If you get lost from your friends it’s only a matter of time before you find other people you know. It’s great; I have bumped into cousins, neighbours, people I haven’t seen in years, all in coppers”.

Dave Woods, 24, said “Without sounding too cliché about it, if you’re looking for love, at least short term, Coppers is the place to go. Everyone knows it, that’s why we love it”.

Ciara Gately, 23, said “The music, dancing, the country accents, GAA boys everywhere and it opens until 5am. You just can’t go wrong with a night in Coppers”.

However, not everyone we asked was fond of the popular venue.

Katie Toolan, 21 said, “I hate the way it’s supposedly ok for guys to treat girls like pieces of meat at Coppers, like we’re animals at a petting zoo. Not cool.”

What is it about coppers that you love (or hate)? Let us know below. 

Who won BBC Sports Personality of the Year?

Scottish professional tennis player Andy Murray, ranked World number four and British number one, has been crowned the BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 2013.

The award was issued in Leeds’ First Direct Arena on the 15th December 2013.

The 26-year-old starred in the 2012 Olympic Games for Britain, achieving a gold medal in the men’s singles by defeating Roger Federer in straight sets in the final to become the first British singles champion in over 100 years.

Murray also won a silver medal in the 2012 mixed doubles with his partner Laura Robson, narrowly missing out on the gold medal with a loss in the final.

Murray in action. Photo courtesy of Roland Garros on Flickr
Murray in action. Photo courtesy of Roland Garros on Flickr

At the US Open 2012, Andy Murray became the first British player since 1977, and the first British man since 1936, to win a Grand Slam singles tournament, when he defeated Novak Djokovic in five sets.

To top off an incredible year, breaking several records and achieving magnificent milestones, Murray won the 2013 Wimbledon Championships, becoming the first British man to do so since Fred Perry, 77 years previously. He saw off the threat of Djokovic again in the final to achieve the title.

Murray looked very appreciative and happy to have won the award, and lightly joked during his acceptance speech, “no matter how excited I try to sound my voice still sounds incredibly boring.”

The tennis star is said to have won a landslide victory as, for the first time, the winner received more votes than the rest of the ten contenders combined.

Nobody before has won the award with over 50 per cent of the poll, but Murray received almost 56 per cent of the total online and phone poll. Such is his admiration and respect among the citizens of the nation.

Whether he is considered British or Scottish by the divided United Kingdom, there is no doubting Murray’s quality as an athlete. He certainly captivated and won the hearts of the nation, securing a British gold and silver medal at the Olympics last year and winning the 2013 Wimbledon Championships.

(Featured image courtesy of E01 on Flickr)

Brass Band in Temple bar?

There was nothing but high spirits and festive vibes in Temple Bar last Sunday afternoon, as band Attention Bébé took out their instruments in aid of Irish guide dogs for the blind.

The band braced the cold of the cobbled streets, wrapped up warmly with puppies at their side to raise some well needed funds for the national charity.

In just two hours, Attention Bébé and helpers raised over €1000, which will go towards helping to train new puppies to be guide dogs.

This annual event is the brainchild of Etaoin Gray, whose family used to train guide dogs. They have been involved in fundraising for Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind for almost 10 years and gained the support of Attention Bébé a number of years ago. Since then the Temple Bar busking session has grown in popularity and is  a real treat to see and hear.

“The crowd are loving it”, said Rachel Bothwell, an onlooker at the busking session. “There really is a huge crowd gathering now. It started with a few but now it’s building up to loads!”

Attention Bébé are a brass band made up of 13 musicians who play a range of instruments including sax, trumpet, trombone, French horn, guitar, tuba, keys, drums, bass, percussion and violin.

The band has grown in popularity since successful performances at Electric Picnic and Knockanstockan and is a regular at Twisted Pepper, Whelans and the Button Factory.

The band drew a big crowd while performing in Temple Bar with a mix of Christmas carols and 90s crowd-pleasers such as Maniac and Vengabus.

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OPINION: Coffee, The Universal Ice Breaker

I like coffee, a lot.

I thought I’d just put that out there at the beginning.

I like coffee for many reasons and in many different ways.

I like that it wakes me up in the morning. I like the taste. I like to put honey in it, I like to put sugar in it. I like that when its a cold, wet, miserable, shitty morning outside, a cup of coffee makes it a little easier to bear for a brief moment.

It is such a versatile drink. You can have a latte, cappuccino, mocha, chocolate, caramel, vanilla, cream,  sugar soaked, diabetes inducing frappuccino. The possibilities are endless.

I know I’m not the only one to hold coffee in such a high regard. Coffee is the universal ice breaker.

How may times have you asked a girl or boy or man or woman you “like” to go for coffee? How many times have you invited someone “up for coffee”? Oh yeah, coffee is another word for sex. Another reason I, as do many others, like it.

As a smoker (who is trying to quit) there is absolutely no better combination on this giant ball of rock than coffee and a cigarette. None.

I am not advocating smoking. If you don’t smoke, then don’t start, you will regret it. If you do though, then you have to admit that chemically the two go together better than tea and biscuits!

How many times have you been falling asleep at your laptop at 2am with an assignment due in 7 hours? For me, its been a lot. Actually more than I should admit. But what do you do then? You get up and make a coffee and you’re good to go!

Some of the best, most interesting, random conversations I have had have been over coffee. I have been offered jobs over coffee, I have been fired over coffee. I have broken hearts and had my heart broken over a cup of coffee. It is the universal ice breaker.

There are very few social scenarios that coffee can be excluded from. It may not be needed but it cannot be excluded. It is there when you need a pick me up or a chat with a friend or to sober up following one too many gallons of alcohol.

Coffee is a very important part of my life. I didn’t realise how much so until I started writing this, but it is. If I didn’t drink coffee I would have missed out on a couple of jobs, girlfriends (including my current lady friend), conversations and friendships.

If I didn’t drink  coffee I would have failed college completely due to never finishing an assignment ( I like to work at night). I would never have found the chemical wonderment that is coffee and a smoke (so I would have quit by now to be fair). My mornings would be much slower, not to mention crap, cold and miserable.

If I didn’t drink coffee what would I drink? Tea. And I already drink enough of that.

Will the real comic please stand-up?

We Irish are usually typecast as a rowdy, drunken bunch with good anecdotes and generally fun to be around. Not the worst stereotype out there, not by a long shot! Would you rather be identified as loud-mouthed, fat and stupid or unhygienic with terrible teeth?

But we tend to be a good-humoured group and are praised for our ability to take a joke on the chin. With recent outbursts in the media and considerable public backlash, notably by infamous comic Ricky Gervais, is there a line that should not be crossed when it comes to stand-up comedy?

Irish comedian Al Porter talks to The City to give his opinion on the nature of the art.

“As a comedian, it’s our jobs to address the things going on in peoples’ minds that maybe they don’t want to say. If you even go back to Shakespearean or Medieval times, you have the court jester. He was the only one permitted to slag the king. He was the only one allowed to rock the boat and talk about the establishment.”

Al recalls a night in the Laughter Lounge where the issue of people taking offence on behalf of others arose at a comedy gig. Do people have a right to take offence on behalf of others, even if the butt of the joke may not necessarily concern them?

Al Porter performing at the RTE New Comedy Awards
Al Porter performing at the RTE New Comedy Awards

MC on the night Steve Cummins usually pokes fun at the audience, luring them into a sense of comfort at the beginning of the shows. On this particular night he had 40 people in wheelchairs in the audience.

“He usually tells people the emergency rules and that night said: ‘in case of a fire you’re f*cked’, looking over at the 40 people in the wheelchairs,” said Al.

However, they all found it hilarious but eight people rang in to Joe Duffy the next day to complain about how rude Steve had been. Following this, members of the group in the wheelchairs rang in jumping to the comic’s defence, explaining that they recognised it was a joke and found it quite funny.

“In Ireland, and anywhere in the Western world, I think freedom of speech comes with the right to be offended but also the right to offend. If you have the right to be offended then I have the right to offend you. I mean I have the right to say things in the name of entertainment.”

Although there are very sensitive issues in regard to race, religion, culture and sexuality, many comics have successfully incorporated these topics into their routine – Chris Rock on race, Louis C.K. on homosexuality etc. Are there issues comedians should avoid joking about and how does one know where to draw the line?

“The problem is that you can’t mark something out as taboo – as something not to be talked about, because that is the reason that comedy exists. It’s there for these things to be talked about.”

“A sensitive issue for an audience is one where you are going to upset people inadvertently, and that’s not doing your job. And that’s things like people who can’t defend themselves, people who have issues that they can’t change about themselves. You can’t change the fact that you are disabled; you can’t change the fact that you have a mental disability; you can’t change the fact that you’re blind.”

“I do religious material and one of the elephants in the room in Ireland is child sex abuse. Now that’s very hard to make fun of. How do you make fun of child sex abuse? It’s a very difficult thing to do comedy on.” said Al.

Al is a regular feature on the Irish comedy circuit, performing here at the Laughter Lounge
Al is a regular feature on the Irish comedy circuit, performing here at the Laughter Lounge

Although child sex abuse is the overriding sensitive topic in Irish culture, we have seen the likes of Tommy Tiernan achieve success in his comedy on the subject, taking a light-hearted approach on the matter.

“My way of doing it is to take a light-handed approach. For example, ‘I was an altar server until I was seventeen but I was only in it for the action’. And people tend to laugh at that. And then I say, ‘if you think the Jews were cruel to Jesus you should have seen how Father Billy nailed me’ and it gets a good reaction,” said Al.

“If we’re going to say that everything is okay for you to talk about, then the only lines we can draw are moral, ethical or boundaries of taste and decency. The problem there is that everybody differs. If you really want to be a top comedian, you should have enough audience entity to know your audience’s moral compass.”

“For example I don’t do those religious jokes down the heart of the country. If I’m in a bar in Sligo or a small village in Tipperary, and that’s because I understand that these audiences don’t particularly want to hear this. I’m here to entertain. I’ll do those jokes up in Dublin where people are more accepting.”

It is obvious that audience entity and knowing your particular audience’s moral compass at any given show is vital for a comedian’s outlook. Pushing the boundaries in comedy comes with great success if done correctly, but it is such a difficult skill to master and one has to accept that they are not going to please everyone. Someone will usually always be offended where sensitive topics are joked about.

“I watched a video of David Walliams recently which made me uncomfortable. He brought a man from the audience up on stage, The man didn’t know what he was volunteering for and he pushed him to the ground, pulled down his trousers and dry-humped him on stage. I think that’s gone too far.”

“The line can be drawn there because it’s not immoral to talk about dry-humping somebody with their trousers down, but he has breached an ethical code, where his audience was not given a yes or no choice here. If that was a verbal joke, the man hears it, but he can hear it, get offended, leave and never buy a ticket to see David Walliams again. The fact that this guy didn’t have the choice to leave and that his own personal space was invaded was wrong.”

“I do stuff that I flirt with men in the audience and they might be rubbed on the shoulder or the leg, but believe me, I am looking at his face and for his reaction. I know when to move away and who to leave alone.”

“That is when it becomes immoral – when somebody else’s freedom is being breached. Nobody is breaching your freedom by censoring you. You’re allowed say what you want and nobody is breaching the audience’s freedom by making them stay there and suffer because they can leave whenever they want.”

“If people are going to allow you the freedom to do what you want, you should allow them the freedom to consent as to whether they want it done or not.”

Al Porter has hosted a set of successful comedy shows in Dublin’s Woolshed Baa & Grill, the last of which takes place on December 16th in a Christmas comedy special.

OPINION: Help or hinder, Celebrities and charity

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Image by Sacca via Flickr

Having grown up with the internet at my fingertips, perhaps I have developed a cynical eye – a digitally fuelled distrust, when it comes to the marriage of wealth and poverty.

Last week, news of Kate Perry’s appointment as the newest Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF got me thinking about this paradigm which so many charities are now employing to draw attention to their cause.

The pop mega-star recently forked over $11.2m (€8.2m) for two L.A properties; and with song titles like “Ur So Gay” and “If You Can Afford Me”, one would wonder why people like Perry are picked to serve as role models for children in need.

UNICEF for one, sees celebrities as a “vital and unique” part of their organisation, and has been doing so since 1953.UNICEF’s star-studded line-up includes Audrey Hepburn, Liam Neeson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Selena Gomez and Dustin the Turkey, to mention but a few.

But what do these famous faces do?

In an interview with Claire McKeever Communications Manager for UNICEF Ireland, she stated that Goodwill Ambassadors: “can make direct representations to those with the power to effect change and they can use their talents and fame to fundraise and advocate for children”.

“Can” is a key word here. Participation is solely up to the individual. In fact, UNICEF ambassadors have been seen to do quite little in the way of active participation – usually one trip a year.

According to Simon Scriver, Director of Total Fundraising, it really depends on the celebrity ambassador and if they themselves wish to act.

“I think simply having a big name associated with your charity will not increase fundraising or necessarily further the cause. It may even leave you exposed as you’re somewhat reliant on their reputation,” said Scriver.

Indeed Celebrity Ambassadors could almost be viewed as double-edged swords. The sexual abuse scandal involving Jimmy Savile last year has resulted in the closing of two separate charities which were affiliated with the British DJ and BBC television presenter.

McKeever insists that UNICEF’s ambassadors are chosen based on certain criteria so as to minimize such risks : “A UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador will have demonstrated a commitment to improving the lives of children worldwide before they are appointed.”

For many other charities though, these are risks they must take. The fact of the matter is, people are more likely to listen to a celebrity then they are to a charity spokesperson. Celebrities are the sugar coating on an otherwise bitter pill.