Venue: The Comedy Arena
Reviewer: Fergus Morgan
David O’Doherty occupies a unique shelf in the vast supermarket of Irish comedy exports. Combining the onstage nonchalance of Dave Allen with the sporadic surrealist philosophising of Bill Bailey, his music-based comedy is a glorious mix of increasingly outlandish aphorisms, endearingly unsure musings on life, and paralysingly funny songs played with childish glee on his 1986 Casio mini-keyboard. And his 45-minute slot is arguably the highlight of Latitude’s comedy line-up this year.
A liberal child of a mixed-faith marriage (that’s white Irish Catholic and white Irish Protestant), O’Doherty embodies both the ironic, self-examining paralysis of the 21st-century man and the stereotypically Irish preoccupation with religion and suffering. But he’s tied to neither, and that’s his strength: he can sing a melodramatic lament about the bleak suffering of life but end it with a chirpy plea for everyone to ‘just have a nice time’, he can joke about avocado-obsessed hipsters drinking gin from jam jars, then neatly segue into material about the potato famine.
And he does it all in an instantly likeable, seemingly unaffected squeak. He lollops and wanders around the stage, waving his arms ambiguously and occasionally retiring to his fold-up chair to sit with tiny keyboard on his comparatively giant knees like a bearded man-baby enjoying a freshly unwrapped Christmas present.
And his songs. Oh, his songs. They’re joyously playful creations combining surreal imagery and a dry, cutting nihilism. He plays only three in his 45-minute slot, leaving the audience desperate for more, but all three are well-crafted, witty, and wonderfully original. Long may he – and his Casio keyboard – keep making comedy.
Image: Dan Dennison