Writer & Director: David O’Doherty
Tiny Piano Man is a triumph of jazz comedy, a term David O’Doherty throws out during the show that fits his style of comedy so perfectly it was a surprise to find that it does not really exist as a genre at all. From the loose beginning to the quick performance dissection at the end, and everything in between, this is a show that thrives on improvisation and yet is full of carefully thought-out well-crafted jokes, songs, and stories.
O’Doherty, as he points out several times throughout the hour, is now 47 and has been performing stand-up for the last 25 years. He takes the audience through a few of the highs and lows of past performances and his experiences of fame, and there are countless jabs at himself throughout, but the primary theme of the show is the feeling of finally coming to fully accept himself as a comedian and lover of comedy, and it adds a lovely dimension to the set. In this show O’Doherty seems completely at ease in his own skin and in his comedic talent, and it’s refreshing to watch someone who appears to be so connected to their craft.
As he points out himself the Project Arts Centre is a great venue for him. He seems very comfortable in it and his set design is simple perfection; a lovingly restored bicycle from his collection, a stool, a mike stand, the tiny piano itself, and the letters TPM done up in masking tape on the curtains that cut the stage. He roams the space at times and at one point is prostrated on the floor, there are some solid moments of physical comedy. Though there are some issues with the lighting it doesn’t affect the performance at all, in fact it’s taken in stride.
The show is hilarious, tears streaming down your face at times funny, leave the Project Arts Centre feeling exhausted from laughing funny. O’Doherty jokes with the light technician, with the audience, with himself; he is light and acerbic and deeply charming. With stories and songs ranging from the best thing that ever happened at Norwich Zoo, to the dangers of going to the bathroom without your phone, to a time someone tried to rob a bicycle out from under him, the show darts all over the place with little seeming to connect it together. Despite this it doesn’t feel disjointed at all, everything flows and fits and feels perfectly natural; a testament to O’Doherty’s delivery and panache.
With Tiny Piano Man O’Doherty showcases his exceptional talent in an understated and extremely relaxed way, it’s a perfect opportunity to watch someone truly in their element, truly in love with comedy, and truly skilled at making you laugh until you cry.
Runs until 23rd September 2023.