IRISH comedy legend Ardal O' Hanlon arrives in Irvine next weekend to rekindle a Celtic connection with his Scots fans.

And with both Ireland and the UK struggling in the grip of recession, Ardal - best known for his role as the bumbling Father Dougal McGuire in Father Ted - reckons that comedy can provide a bit of escapism.

"I was in a film which showed at the Edinburgh Film Festival and it was a wee bit grim, which I think is a problem given the current climate. I think that, given the circumstances, people just want a laugh," he told us.

There are no huge themes in Ardal's latest show, as he tackles subjects close to his heart - namely his own worries and foibles.

"I suppose in stand up you talk on plenty of subjects, but in general it's about my various neuroses." After making his breakthrough in stand-up in the early 90s, Ardal came to the attention of the masses in the award winning sitcom Father Ted.

And he has been enjoying some craic with fellow Irish comedians Dylan Moran and Tommy Tiernan - both of whom appeared on the scene in the 90s - in a US tour entitled "The Fellas".

What was it about that period which saw such an explosion of Irish talent?

"In the late eighties and early nineties in Dublin there wasn't much else going on," Ardal explained. "A lot of people turned to things like theatre, music and comedy.

"Comedy was kinda new and exciting and the beautiful thing was that everyone could give it a go.

"Most people might have been hopeless, but it was quite easy to put on. You don't need props or anything like that, you just need the balls to go up there.

"It is very seductive.

"What I love is coming out with something that everyone is thinking. That moment where everyone is sharing the same thoughts. I get the chance to put this into words on stage.

"There is something in the Irish make-up, without being pretentious, which is perhaps less materialistic and more about expressing itself.

"I also think that link with Scotland shows that we are much the same. There is also a kind of fatalism as well.

"I think we don't obsess about accumulating wealth, it just isn't as important." Ardal reckons that the need for a laugh should encourage more youngsters to come through and become comics.

"Without stand-up I wouldn't have been able to go on and write, perform in TV and films, so I have a lot to thank stand up for." Ardal O'Hanlon plays at the Magnum, Irvine on Saturday September 12. Call 01294 278831 for information.