What better vengeance against a hard, impoverished childhood than to forge a cottage industry out of it? That’s what sons of Ireland Frank and Malachy McCourt have done in recent years, spinning out memoirs (Franks dark "Angela’s Ashes," soon to be a major motion picture; Malachy’s more lighted hearted "A Monk Swimming"), stage entertainments (Frank’s "The Irish and How They Got That Way") and encore appearances on TV talk shows by prolific actor Malachy.
The inspiration for both their celebrated memoirs is "A Couple of Blaguards," a fireside-cozy vaudeville that the brothers McCourt spun out in the early ‘80s and performed years after in workshops productions in Dublin and New York’s Village Vanguard.
Unlike the bleak "Angela’s Ashes," "A Couple of Blaguards" mixes the sweetness and kick of an Irish coffee as its two roguish talespinners recreate the faces and rituals of schooldays in Limerick and young adulthood in America. Appropriately enough, the Irish coffee flows at the Triad’s snugly conjoined tables, where patrons can dine on authentic McCourt family recipes prior to the performances.
Not having partaken myself, I can’t vouch for how split pea soup goes down with recollections of "Bucketham Palace," the communal latrine that was shared by no less than 16 families along the McCourt’s slimy lane. That odiferous reference is about as grubby and graphic as the evening gets. More often, a memory of woe is likely to trigger a nostalgic music hall number about boyhood fishing or a mother’s love.
At it’s sharpest, however, "A Couple of Blaguards" offers up comically adroit miniatures that stay with you: the language-lacerating mayor of Limerick ("let me reiterate what I am about to say") or the McCourt’s estranged father, working as a chef in a monastery where he is occasionally called upon to snip the hairs from the nostrils of deceased monks.
"A Couple of Blaguards" tries to subvert any cloying Celtic-centricity by a self-mocking wink at Irish chauvinism.
In this instance, the attempt pays off. If it feels like a romanticized account o the McCourts and how they go that way, it is also a testament to the manner in which time enables us to smile upon the rigors of our youth.

By Jan Stuart