Last night was the beginning of Christmas for many Irish people- The Late Late Toy Show! The Daily Shift’s Sam Barry reviews another night of broken toys and precocious children…
If you grew up in Ireland, then it’s not Christmas without the Toy Show. The kids get to stay up late and dream of what Santa might bring. Adults watch for nostalgia, and to note down ideas. It’s also a good excuse to stay home on these cold Friday nights. So let’s get stuck in… Was it worth the watch?
This year opened with a Shrek theme; the set resembles far away woods… Vaguely. Then Tubridy makes his grand entrance via a screen trick. One minute it’s a voluptuous Shrek, next a tall skinny Ryan. The question everyone wants to know is answered. Yes, he wore the jumper! Not just any old Christmas jumper, this year he came as an elf (rather fitting for his slender, boyish frame).
Out comes the pixie wand microphone. Straight away, a toy fails and needs to be thumped back to life. The nation is filled with glee; The Late Late Toy Show is in full swing.
Poor Tubs though looks like he could use a Friday night at home with his slippers. He is clearly exhausted. Most of part one he is racing through, as if he could squeeze the entire show into the first twenty minutes. Or, at the very least, get to the nearest coffee machine. That is not to say the show didn’t have its delights; the magic of the toy show can’t be crushed.
A quirky Nessa shows off her tricks. Mary talks about “sensible” toys with an infectious giggle. Omar admits to getting a lot of help from his uncle, and actually liking his homework. Tubridy manages to break the one toy that Omar actually built by himself.
Not to be missed is an interesting take the older kids have on the opposite sex. Two girls ‘rawr’ at a Harry Styles doll. A boy dressed as Bond has interesting ideas for his spy car. Enough said.
The ride-on parade is a cute as ever. A little boy so mesmerised, he forgets to pedal his bike. Then comes Irish-speaking Alex, with a coolness that has to be seen to be believed. You cannot help but be jealous, and long for your own mini-Mini Cooper.
There is an awful lot of ‘buy Irish’ slipped in this year. The giveaways, the Irish manufactured toys and promos. There’s even an Irish graphic novel. It’s slipped in just a touch too much. We do get a small break from the commercialism and cut to the ‘here’s tots playing earlier’ clip. This is mostly close-ups of children’s faces light up playing with the toys, and very little to do with the actual toys.
With quite a lot of mention of technology, it is a relief to see that the book section has not become dated. Ashley is reminiscent of a real-life Matilda. When asked why she likes to read: “It’s how I like to use my mind.” Wow. Kids today do not get enough credit.
Ah, the acts… Rap seemed to be somewhat of a running theme. I’m loath to dissect any child’s talent. St. Aloysius’ Choir preformed a well executed version of ‘Carol Of The Bells’. The best act goes to the dance off between Irish dancers and an 80s tribute. It looked as strange as it sounds, but those kids had some great moves! Jedward had a small part to play, but luckily, it was brief.
Compared to previous years, The Late Late Toy Show has been modernised. There is a special section for apartment friendly toys, special needs toys and a lot of tech. Yet, there’s still cheeky jokes that only adults get, and the old ‘one for every one in the audience’.
The drawback was the main man. He coaxed the audience in with a ‘are we having fun?’- with a drowsy and half shocked face. Clearly, he was not. At the beginning, it’s a little cringe worthy, but empathy is gained when you realize that he’s giving it all he has. To put it in plain Irish- he was fierce shocking, but Jaysus at least he tried. Halfway, anyone would find it hard not to hope he makes it through the struggle and home to his bed. An opportunity to bring out the cuteness in the tiny ones was lost. However, he brightened up toward the end. Possibly because he could taste the finishing line. The last we see of Ryan Tubridy, he is literally jumping for joy as Santa plays the saxophone in the show’s finale.
The Toy Show is still the Toy Show; Some toys broke, some were plain weird. The audience members dressed for the occasion. Sure, Tubridy is no Gay- and it may have been an awkward night for him- but at least he’s not Pat. He still delivered his cheeky grin, and wore a tutu momentarily.
Love it or hate it, the mania that is the Late Late Toy Show is over. Christmas may now commence.