The Hardy Bucks of Swinford
A group of friends from east Mayo are a huge online hit thanks to their comedy creation
IF there’s one sure thing about the internet it is this – if you have a talent and are willing to demonstrate it, you will be spotted.
Ordinarily, mates Chris Torduff and Martin Maloney from Swinford would be wasting their time trying to make a name for themselves as comedy creators through the conventional TV route; their brand of humour and the characters they present would not tick the right boxes in places like Montrose.
But, thanks to the internet, they were able to start off on a solo run and introduce their ‘Hardy Bucks’ comedy programme to the world via YouTube. To say things have snowballed since would be an understatement.
After receiving acclaim locally by word of mouth, up to January of this year their YouTube site had a reasonable 40,000 hits. Now, six months later, they have clocked up an incredible 450,000 hits.
A big part of the reason is, ironically, an RTÉ-run internet competition called Storyland, where amateur film-makers and actors get the chance to produce short episodes and the public votes on who should stay and who should go. Out of an initial entry of hundreds, the Hardy Bucks are down to the last three, along with a drama, ‘Psych Ward’, and another comedy, ‘Rental Boys’.
And their prospects look good. They came first in the last series of votes. The public would appear to be telling RTÉ that there is a market for ‘The Hardy Bucks’.
But more about Storyland later. For now a little bit of background for those of you who haven’t heard of the show.
Set in Castletown (Swinford), ‘The Hardy Bucks’ follows the lives of two best friends, Eddie Durkin and Billy ‘Buzz’ McDonnell, and their misadventures with their group of mates around Castletown. Buzz describes the pair as ‘two hardy bucks around town . . . fighting, drinking, schmoking’.
The ‘fighting’ normally involves the pantomime villain ‘The Viper’ who stalks the lads at every opportunity and plenty of bad luck follows the lads’ search for ‘wemin’ as they wonder if there is a life outside Castletown.
The most interesting aspect of the show is the lack of experience of all who take part – none of them ever acted before and while director Chris Torduff is studying Media in Ballyfermot College of Further Education, the whole show is essentially amateur. Torduff and Maloney had recorded small vignettes before, while the other actors were all completely raw. Not that you’d know when you are watching it though.
“They’ve taken to it so well,” admits Chris Torduff (23). “We’re all great friends and the lads have that Mayo wit, and stuff like that is something you don’t normally see on television.
“The lads only needed a small bit of direction and that was it. They were a bit nervous but once they seen Martin recording a lot of stuff that I would then edit down, they relaxed because they knew it wasn’t that everything had to be right every time. I think they found it easy too because they are half-playing themselves anyway.”
And, without getting too far ahead of themselves, Torduff and Co have ambitions for a six-series episode, 25 minutes per show. At the minute, their Storyland efforts have to be limited to seven minutes per episode. Three episodes have been made for RTÉ, while their YouTube site has three more episodes, made last year.
Torduff and Martin Maloney are the creators of the show, with Maloney, Owen Colgan, Peter Cassidy and Tom Kilgallon playing the leading roles. Both Torduff and Maloney were born in England (Leeds and Liverpool respectively) before moving to Swinford a year apart just over a decade ago. Having moved into Swinford, they’ve managed to be distanced enough to notice the quirks and foibles of the locality, stuff the locals wouldn’t give a second thought to.
“It is easy to paint the different characters for the show because the Mayo area is full of characters and storytellers and people who will always give you the time of day, always stop and talk to you on the street.
“The people of Swinford have been brilliant too, and I was surprised – I thought people might get the wrong idea and think that we were mocking the town. But everyone wanted to help out.
“Now a lot of people come up to the lads saying their catchphrases. I can avoid it because I’m behind the camera, but the lads are not getting one bit sick of it!”
Crediting Canadian comedy-documentary ‘Trailer Park Boys’ as ‘an inspiration’ for their show, Torduff and Co are filming their fourth Storyland episode this weekend. Voting will commence on www.rte.ie/storyland on July 17 and run until July 31.
> See More visit www.youtube.com/hardy bucks . Readers are warned that the material is suitable for over 18s only.
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