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END OF THE ROACH; Tributes pour in for comedy legend Hal after he dies aged 84.

Byline: DEMELZA de BURCA

TRIBUTES were paid yesterday for legendary comedian Hal Roach who died aged 84.

The veteran funnyman worked in showbusiness for more than 60 years.

He held the Guinness World Record for the longest running engagement as a comedian at the same venue, having worked for 26 years at Dublin's Jurys Hotel Ballsbridge.

Roach was known for his catchphrase: "Write it down, it's a good one."

And the father of three was part of the popular Irish comedy circuit of the late 70s and 80s which included comedian Frank Carson, who died last week.

Yesterday fellow comic Brendan Grace led tributes to the late star, who was from Co Waterford.

He said: "I grew up on Hal Roach and he certainly would have inspired me into doing comedy.

"I always related Hal to Bob Hope and Jack Benny and a lot of the American icon comedians we knew over the years.

"I worked with Hal also, both here and in America. He was the master of timing - his timing was impeccable."

Brendan, 60, added Roach was famed for his "clean routines" and was a comedian "for all the family".

He told RTE: "I thought his gags were very simple and I certainly emulated him in lots of ways.

"He was iconic in every sense of the word. I forget what his real name was - something like John Burn as far as I can gather.

"But he was clever to pick the name Hal Roach because Hal Roach was a huge comedian in America in the 1920s and he produced a lot of those Keystone Cops and a lot of those great movies.

"So it meant something to [the Americans] from the start.

"I remember him coming to see me one night in the Gaiety.

"He had a tongue that could snip a hedge and he was a great man for sarcasm but I remember him coming to the show and he said, 'Howya mate, I'm here to steal some of it back.' "We all stole gags from Hal. They were always simple, funny gags.

"I knew he hadn't been well for a while and I had hoped I might have got along to see him. We'll miss him around."

Also paying tribute to the funnyman yesterday was singer Sonny Knowles, 79, who revealed it was Roach that gave him his first solo gig after the showbands era.

He added: "Everybody knew Hal. He was universal and he became a smashing friend to me.

"He asked me would I like to do a spot in Biddy Mulligans, a bar he owned. It was another new world.

"I was there a year and a half and I learned a whole new trade. He was an influence." Roach released a number of albums including The King Of Blarney and He Must Be Joking and DVDs including Hal Roach, The King Of Irish Comedy.

Tony Kenny, who worked with the comedian in Jurys Cabaret for 13 years, said: "It's very sad. He was so good to me over the years. I really loved what he did.

"He was a fantastic guy and he had a lovely wife Mary and three sons."

Another fellow worker from Jurys Cabaret, Doc Savage, added: "The Americans loved him. He was a bigger star there then he was here. He was fantastic."

WRITE IT DOWN, IT'S A GOOD ONE!

"He told me that I have a cult following, at least I think that's what he said."

"You know it is summer in Ireland when the rain gets warmer."

"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."

"Work is a very delicate subject in Ireland - half the men in Ireland think manual labour is the Spanish ambassador."

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 29, 2012
Words:664
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