March 18 2013 12:00 AM

'The Irish Comedy Tour' brings an early dose of St. Patrick's Day to the Wharton Center

Thursday, March 8 — St. Patrick’s Day festivities kick off a bit early when the bawdy Irish-American comics of “The Irish Comedy Tour” arrive at Wharton Center’s Pasant Theatre Tuesday.

You can’t say you weren’t warned.

According to “Tour” member Derek Richards, who appears alongside fellow comic Mike McCarthy and guitarist Derrick Keane, this is not your typical live comedy show.

“The whole idea was to try to take the best of an Irish pub and the best of a comedy show and mash it together," he said. "It really is a party — (with) the kind of conversation you’d expect to hear in a bar. Of course you can’t drink (at Wharton Center), so have a couple pints before you come, and then go have a couple of pints after.”

The tour has been running since 2006 and features a rotating cast of comedians.  For this leg of the tour, Richards’ and McCarthy’s sets will be interspersed with Keane, a native of the Dublin suburb of Inchicore, who is performing traditional Irish drinking songs.

The trio recently released “Dublin’ Over,” its first DVD.

Tuesday’s show is a homecoming for Richards, a Detroit native who also lived in Lansing for a spell.

“I miss a lot of people back there," said Richards, who calls Florida home these days, “A lot of them will be coming to the show and it will be great to see them. It’s always a blast going back.”

Richards, who is known for regaling audiences with tales of his mother’s dog — as well as the perils of dating a stripper — has appeared on “The Bob & Tom Show” and Sirius/XM Radio in addition to releasing solo comedy cds.

Boston-bred McCarthy is known for a no-holds-barred style that sees him tackling sensitive issues with aplomb. The self-described “comedy barbarian” has appeared on Showtime and Comedy Central.

“He is a tornado, just out of his mind,” Richards said of his tour partner. “He’s like your little brother you like to get in trouble. You tell him to do something he shouldn’t do just so you can laugh when he gets in trouble for it.”

Richards is quick to point out that although Irish Jokes are the connecting thread, one need not be Irish to appreciate the humor. “I see kids in the audience in their Flogging Molly t-shirts and I see older ladies who look like nuns — drinking their Guinness right there in the front row,”

Richards described the show as being “mildly R-rated” and had typically irreverent advice for prospective audience members: “If you see only one show this year, see George Carlin. But, no, he’s dead. So come see us.”

'The Irish Comedy Tour'
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 13
Pasant Theatre, Wharton Center, East Lansing
$28.50; $15 for students