Late nights, early mornings; the world of stand-up comedy can take its toll on both body and mind, so it’s important to give oneself time to relax and rejuvenate… maybe take a break from gigging, book oneself into a spa for a weekend, just let all stresses and strains slip into the background and emerge refreshed and… nah, bollox to that. What you need to do is keep the head down and plough on, with the help of some serious cocktails of sugar and caffeine. Who the fuck cares about long-term heart-tissue erosion? You need to chug down some energy drinks in the style of a mad scientist turning himself into a monster.
But with so many energy drinks on the market, how can we know which ones will carry us to that gig in Borris-In-Ossory, and which ones will abandon us and leave us falling asleep at a red light in Clane? Well, it’s times like this you have to turn to Improv genius and Energy Drink connoisseur Mark Hanratty!
Mark has already contributed one gut-bursting article on energy drinks, (which you can read here) and returns today with a review of concentrated energy shots, because who the fuck needs tooth enamel, right? Take it away, my friend…
There are many different reasons why somebody might need an energy drink to keep them awake. Like Gerry, you may be a comedian, trying to stay awake on the long journey back from a gig. You might be working a day job, and trying to keep yourself from dropping off after a rough night of sleep. Or you might be Cillian Murphy, trying to safeguard yourself from a sneaky Leonardo DiCaprio intent on tampering with your dreams. Whatever the reason, we all need a bit of a pick-me-up now and again, and a can of energy drink is the choice of many. But what about those guys who are just so busy, they don’t have time for a 250ml drink? When the five minutes needed to skull a Red Bull is a luxury you can’t afford, you, my friend, need an Energy Drink Shot.
Energy Drink Shots are one off the offshoots of the energy drink craze of the late 90s. Sold in most off-licenses, newsagents, and some supermarkets, they promise the kick you need in just a couple of gulps. They became most widely available around 2007 or 2008, and by this point there’s a wide range of them on the market. We’ll be putting three of them through their paces- “5 Hour Energy”, “Red Bull Energy Shot” and “Revamp”. I tested each shot out under a different scenario: Work, Rest, and Play.
“5 Hour Energy”
“5 Hour Energy” is, according to Wikipedia, the biggest-selling energy drink shot in the US, and the one that kicked off the imitators. It comes in various fruit flavours, with Orange being the one I tried. Taste-wise, it’s got an incredible bitter, acidic tang off it. It leaves something of a powdery taste in the mouth afterwards, and it’s almost nausea inducing. It can leave one with a queasiness after drinking a big gulp of it. It’s possible to drink the whole bottle in a single go, but the sharp taste it has means it’s probably better to finish it off with a series of smaller sips.
I tried this bad boy on my way to work one morning. I had been gigging with the Absurders the night before, and was so pumped with adrenaline afterwards that by the time the alarm rang at 6am, I hadn’t had a wink of sleep. No better time to give the drink its test – it was going to be a tough day for me, just trying to stay awake.
As the name implies, the energy that this drink gives is intended to last for five hours. It also promises no sugar crash – that horrible comedown seasoned energy drink enthusiasts experience when the taurine, caffeine and sugar burn out of your system and you’re forced to run off the body’s natural energy. Health warnings on the back advise against drinking the shot if you are pregnant or under the age of 12. Since I’m from Tallaght, I know some people who have two reasons not to drink it. “Feel it in minutes- lasts for hours!” claims the bottle. The low-brow comedian in me saw a double meaning behind this slogan, but the catering assistant in me had work to do.
Unlike the conventional energy drinks, where the effects can be felt instantly, 5- Hour Energy has a slow-burning effect. You don’t get the dizzying sense of euphoria or inability to sit still that Red Bull provides. However, what you do get is the feeling of a slow release of energy thoughout the day. Despite my lack of sleep, I felt fully able to perform the day’s duties, and didn’t need to go to bed until 7:30pm that night. I didn’t have a sugar rush, but I didn’t doze off while washing the dishes either. It’s just a shame that the taste is so bitter.
NB – Don’t make the mistake that one 22- year old woman did recently; that is, to drink ten bottles of 5 Hour Energy a day. Unless of course, you fancy jaundice. The bottle points out that two a day should be your limit.
Revamp is a drink, targeted at the ultra- cool, super- funky youth, man! They’ve even got a breakdancer on their bottle! This drink is NOT for squares, daddio!
It’s got an overpowering, medicine-like taste off it. It was a genuine chore drinking it; it tastes absolutely foul, and reminds one of gone-off Calpol. Revamp’s main selling point is that it markets itself as a hangover cure, with the slogan “Get up. Feel good. Carry on”. Poster advertising also points towards its ability to induce wellbeing after a heavy night of boozing. Since I don’t drink, and have as a result never had a hangover, I can only imagine what one must feel like through portrayals in the media. However, if I did ever wake up to find a tiger in my bathroom or a Mike Tyson- style tattoo on my face, knocking back a Revamp would be far from my mind. In fact, when I did drink it, it only induced what I believe to be hangover symptoms such as nausea and a sour taste in my mouth. It also has its very own website and Facebook page, including a questionnaire that calls you a “party pooper” if you don’t drink, and should get some bottles of Revamp to help you liven up. Thanks guys! There’s also quotes from Revamp drinkers, talking about how the drink helps them through the day after a heavy night of drinking. The quotes are broken down into age groups, with 20-25 being the youngest. This being Ireland, there are people a LOT younger than that who need to cope with hangovers.The site has a list of the drink’s ingredients, and what each can do. Inositol, for example, can help with depression, apparently. Gerry wrote in his blog a while ago, that those suffering depression would be best to open up to somebody they trust. Don’t bother guys- just drink a Revamp instead!
I drank this while sitting at home one afternoon, watching television. Other than the afore mentioned nausea and sour taste, I got nothing from this. Perhaps it really works best as a hangover cure. People who don’t down ridiculous amounts of booze to begin with won’t get anything out of Revamp.
“Red Bull Energy Shot”
Red Bull! My favourite energy drink, and the world’s most popular way of struggling though another bleary-eyed day at the office. Surely you, in shot form, won’t let me down, right?
Red Bull Energy Shot makes the same claims as its big brother Red Bull. It promises improved concentration and increased vigilance. It contains the same ingredients as Red Bull, only it’s much more concentrated- it has the same amount of caffeine as a can, although it’s in a bottle a quarter of the size. Taste- wise, it doesn’t offer the same refreshing sense that a can does, and without the fizz the shot can feel quite dull. It has a thick, syrupy texture, and is not unpleasant to drink, but doesn’t offer an enjoyable experience either.
Since the shot claims to “improve performance”, I thought I’d take a shot of it before performing onstage with the Absurders in Comedy HaHa in the Mercantile (and with my girlfriend away for two weeks I wouldn’t be doing any other kind of “performing” in the near future, ho ho). Given that the shot contains such a high percentage of caffeine I expected much more of a buzz out of it, but my system just didn’t register any kind of boost. I was a little disappointed – I had expected to be much perkier after the shot but no.
Overall, 5 Hour Energy is the shot of choice. It does the job despite its bitterness, but the taste is not as awful as Revamp.
Once again, big thanks to Mark for his time and his liver damage. Remember to catch Mark and his fellow Absurders as they bring a rollercoaster of improv madness to the Belvedere Hotel every second Sunday!