Awkward moments at the Olympia as Jonathan Van Ness expresses "love" for Leo Varadkar 7 months ago

Awkward moments at the Olympia as Jonathan Van Ness expresses "love" for Leo Varadkar

It was a night of joy at the Olympia, punctuated by one or two moments of rather painful awkwardness.

Star of Queer Eye Jonathan Van Ness (JVN) brought his Road To Beijing show to Dublin on Wednesday night, his first foray into the world of stand-up comedy, a medium to which his talents are spectacularly well-suited.

JVN had done some degree of homework, and burst onto the stage with an acknowledgement of Ireland's status as the first country to ever legalise same-sex marriage through a popular vote. Then, he quickly spun into a bit about the "cute" Leo Varadkar and said he was available for a Hillary Clinton-style situation wherein he marries Varadkar and then eventually runs for President himself.

It was off-the-cuff and funny and besides, nobody's problem with Leo Varadkar is that he's not handsome enough.

The crowd was able to grin and bear it, and Jonathan soon sashayed his way into more comfortable territory. Bits about his cats being poisoned, flooding a hotel bathroom as a child pretending to be a synchronised swimmer and singing in the character of some exfoliating scrub had the crowd delighted for almost the whole night.

Taking it back towards politics at the end, though, seemed to cross a line with his adoring fans. JVN is, naturally, disgusted by Donald Trump and drew favourable comparisons between Varadkar and America's demagogue, finally taking the tension to a breaking point when he said: "We love Leo, don't we?"

The JVN devotees in the crowd obviously buy into the star's message of support and were keen to support him the whole way through the show, but in true Irish fashion, the Olympia crowd could hold their peace no longer.

One brave soul took it upon themselves to cry "He's Fine Gael!" which, realistically, meant absolutely nothing to JVN, because why would it? Seeming to realise this, the same voice then yelled "Conservative!"

Again, the message didn't really get through, but now audience members closer to the stage were clearly filling in the 32-year-old on the nuances of the housing crisis or direct provision through the medium of stern eye contact and frantic 'cut it out' gestures.

To his credit, JVN rolled with the punches spectacularly well. In his glamorous way, he leaned all the way back and said "Really?" before shooting forward and asking "Really?" once more, disappointment all over his expressive face.

"Well, I went to Canada and said all this nice stuff about Justin [Trudeau, Prime Minister] and look how that ended up." Trudeau has recently been in the news for repeatedly dressing up in blackface.

Jonathan Van Ness

JVN took the instruction of the crowd on board, full of humility and appreciation, clearly disabusing himself of his short-lived love of our gay Taoiseach. Alas Jonathan, we're disappointed too.

That wasn't the only hairy moment for the hairdresser extraordinaire.

Earlier in the evening, Van Ness had spoken intensely about his love for Beyoncé, noting that Lemonade should have won the Grammy ahead of Adele's 25. In the throes of his excitement, JVN went so far as to say that he wasn't scared to call out Adele in front of a "UK crowd".

The low drone of disapproval that followed could certainly have been interpreted as a mild booing. It's hard to do constructive criticism from the cheap seats, after all.

JVN skipped over it, explaining that his Ireland education only extended as far as two podcasts he's listened to about Brexit. His cheeriness is pretty much impenetrable and thankfully its infectious, meaning the crowd could quickly forgive the slips, awkward though they were.

After reemerging, JVN was contrite for his UK gaff and even told the audience that he had immediately gone backstage and texted his mother to tell her he'd screwed up. It was endearing, and very typically JVN. Very human, very conscious and completely full-on.

This man has his own shit going on. Not least, he recently revealed that he's battling HIV. His heart is in the right place, and his attempts to do the right thing are commendable. The Irish political landscape is more complicated than we like to pretend, and Brexit certainly hasn't made it any easier to understand. Especially not for anyone mired in the endless political turmoil that has consumed America.

For JVN's part, he promised to do more research on Irish politics before his return. Of course, that kind of self-education is welcome. But after a night when most of his material shone, he's probably better off just leaving Leo out of his set altogether.