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Published on June 28th, 2009 | by Allan


Johnny Massacre- I wonder where he got it.

Julian Gough thought he saw Johnny Massacre in Berlin last night.

Johnny was never one of the best buskers. He was the best. If you had to walk down Shop Street on a summer’s evening you’d want to give yourself an extra half an hour for your journey. Johnny would have brought the street to a standstill.

I never caught up with him for that pint after he got back to Ireland from his travels. He was dead within a month of a quick chat in Easons. His funeral was one of the best day’s craic I ever had. The priest struggled to give a convincing eulogy as his inexperience with beds of nails showed. The congregation rippled with laughter and rippled with grief- we knew the enormous talent that had passed.

His mother invited about a million of us to stay for dinner in the hotel afterwards. She wouldn’t let a single one of us off without being fed.

Jay and I went up to her to express our condolences. We told her about his show and how important he was to the people of Galway, and the thousands of visitors he’d entertained over his short life. She nodded her head and held onto our arms as if we were the ones that needed comforting.

When we’d finished telling her about her amazing son and his amazing ability to capture an audience like no one else, she leaned in to both of us.

“Ah, you’re right. He was brilliant. But sure, you’ll be able to make a few pound yourself now he’s gone”.

The penny wobbled just long enough for her to make her exit, and when it dropped the two of us were crying laughing.
Perfect delivery and timing.

I wonder where he got it.

(First published here.)

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About the Author

Allan is a Galway based cartoonist with a smörgåsbord of interests including visual art, music, technology and politics, and has always wanted to use smörgåsbord in a sentence. He also blogs at Caricatures Ireland.

3 Responses to Johnny Massacre- I wonder where he got it.

  1. Green Of Eye says:

    Allan, when you posted the link on twitter yesterday i watched it and laughed my ass off.He had such a knack for timing.When it finished i remembered the numbness that followed the days after his death.

    He was probably the greatest street performer I’d seen and Galway wasn’t quite the same without him.The world lost a good ‘un when he left this mortal coil

  2. Allan says:

    That’s exactly how I watched it yesterday too.
    I really lost interest in performing after that. Johnny made me try harder, just by dint of how good he was. When he died I just couldn’t see the point any more. The joy had gone.
    Johnny was just some kind of distillation of brilliance: the timing, the comedy, the size of his soul, and his giving whatever kid he plucked out of the audience a fiver for his or her trouble.
    Ireland’s only full time busker, I seem to remember being one of his monikers.

  3. darraghdoyle says:

    WOw. I’m stunned here.

    I never saw Johnny Massacre, but after my experiences at the SPWC, I’m wondering how many of the performers did. A lot of the lines are the same, the actions, the intonations and the laughs. If it started somewhere, it would be nice to think it started with him. He’s certainly world class, based on that video.

    Great post Allan, thanks for sharing that. I wish I’d seen him now. Sounds like a great entertainer.

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