in the genes | 

Faye Shortt says she is finally happy to follow in her famous dad Pat's footsteps

After resisting at first, rising actor-turned-comedian Faye Shortt has finally accepted that tickling funny bones like her famous dad, Pat, is in the genes
Deirdre Reynolds

AS the eldest child of Pat Shortt, who first found fame alongside Jon Kenny in the nineties, it’s hardly D’Unbelievable that Faye Shortt has followed in her comedian father’s footsteps.

Just like the old days for Pat, the father-daughter duo are currently touring towns up and down the country with their stage show, Well, complete with madcap characters and a wig or ten.

And while she’s having “great craic” on the road with her old man, Faye admits she hasn’t always leaned into her comedy lineage as she pursued a career in the cutthroat world of showbusiness.

“At the beginning I didn’t really want people to know,” she says.

“I’ve kind of grown up like that, never really wanting people to know. I kind of get maybe just a bit like, ‘I’m my own person, I want to be known as my own person, I don’t want to be known as ‘blah blah blah’’.

“But then there was a lovely moment in college where I actually got to the stage where I was like, ‘Do you know what? I should be really proud because of the work he’s done’.

"And to be told you’re so similar to him, or you have these qualities, is such a compliment. I think I wasn’t realising that at the time.”

Up to that turning point, the 23 year-old recalls deliberately dodging humorous roles while studying at The Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin to avoid being likened to the Killinaskully star.

“It’s actually funny,” she says now. “I always went for dramatic roles. I only started kind of going for comedy towards the end of college.

“I think because dad always did comedy I had this weird mental block. I was like, ‘No, I’m going to carve my own path’, and I probably put too much focus on that. And I didn’t realise I could do comedy.

“My drama tutors were like, ‘Why do you keep picking these dramatic roles where your father has been killed or your brother has been killed?’ They were like, ‘Do something a bit light-hearted’.

“Then I had to write my own piece and perform it in front of my class and I did a comedy piece. It went down so well and I think when I got that experience on stage doing comedy, it’s just so addictive.”

“[Dad] always said it to me: it’s very difficult to do comedy — a lot of people can do the straight roles, but it’s even harder to do comedy. I actually never really understood that until I got to drama college and I realised how difficult it was for so many people to do comedy because you’re really putting yourself out there.”

Still, the rising star was poised to move to London to pursue a career in television and film acting after graduating in 2020, until fate — and a global pandemic — intervened.

Stuck at home in Limerick instead, the tight-knit pair began making funny videos to beat the lockdown boredom, including a sketch for RTÉ Does Comic Relief, planting the seed for their nationwide tour.

Now they’re getting ready to play Dublin’s 3Olympia Theatre together this August, as well upcoming gigs everywhere from Clonmel to Cork right up to next March.

“As soon as I left college I started working with dad straight away,” explains Faye, who also studied at screen acting at Bowe Street Academy in Dublin.

“We did a piece for Comic Relief for RTÉ One, and it just went down so well dad was like, ‘Jesus, we must do a few more together’ — so we did them over Covid and just put them up on social media. From there then dad just asked me, ‘Do you want to go on the road with me?’ and I was like, ‘Jesus, I’d love to!’, and that’s how it started.

“We’re at a very comfortable stage with it now,” she continues.

“The first week or two you’re kind of shitting yourself because it’s your first time doing this particular show and you dont know how its going to sit with the audience. But I’m loving it so far. It’s great craic.

“We have a very good laugh together. It’s weird — we kind of have this relationship [where] when we’re on tour, we’re working together and when we’re at home, we’re family. It kind of naturally just progresses into those two different stages. It isn’t forced at all.

“Naturally, at times you’d come home and one of us would have an idea, and we’d say it to each other and you’d just be like, ‘Oh my God, can you stop talking about work for a second! Jesus Christ!’

“You have to keep them separate,” Faye believes. “But I dont think there’s a lot of girls my age who are gigging with their fathers, and not spending as much time with their father either. I don’t think a Friday or Saturday night out with their father is considered a wild one!”

Faye is now the same age as her comedy sidekick, now 54, was when he first began performing with D’Unbelievables in the late eighties.

And the performer, who wasn’t even born when the duo were at the peak of their success with cult comedy recordings D’Video in 1996 and D’Telly in 1998, admits it’s trippy looking back on old footage of the fresh-faced act, who disbanded in 2000, reuniting 11 years later for One Hell of a Do.

“I find that bizarre looking at them,” laughs Faye of the sketches’ enduring popularity on YouTube. “He looks so different, he’s like a little baby in them, and you’re like, ‘That’s my dad? What?’

“You always think your parents are old, but no it’s bizarre, and you kind of realise then how long he’s been doing it for.”

“I think I was on the set of D’Mother when I was a baby, and I actually think I’m in D’Telly when I’m about three months old in my mother’s arms, but other than that, no, I wasn’t around when they were gigging.

“I was there when they did the comeback tour and that was great because I’d never seen them perform live together beforehand. Obviously I know Jon through the year and they were amazing together — absolutely hilarious.”

“I was never that fazed by it all,” adds Faye, who has a younger sister, Lily Rose (xx), and brother, Lugheidh (xx). “I don’t think I ever got that embarrassed, but I know my siblings definitely did at times. They’d be scarlet at videos he’d make and put up online or whatever, but I think I always understood it.”

While multi-talented Pat famously showed his range by going the opposite direction, from comedy to drama with his IFTA-winning turn in Garage in 2007, his eldest also showed off her more serious side in Danny McCafferty’s short film, Give Him Time, alongside her father earlier this year.

So could a move from Limerick to London yet be on the cards?

“I’d love to down the line,” Faye tells Magazine+. “I dont think it’ll be coming anytime soon, Ireland is definitely my home for the next few years, but yeah I’d love to get over there.

“I have an acting agent in the UK and also in Ireland, so I’m constantly going for roles and auditions and everything - you never know what’s going to come up, but at the moment, it’s great to have the stability of the gigs. Down the line, I would definitely love to have my own one woman show.”

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