Comedy Festival 2008, Herald Theatre
April 22-26 | Reviewed by Jacob Powell

FUSING musical comedy, classic stand-up, one-liners, and a little bit of improv, Dublin’s David O’Doherty crafts a show that consistently had me at least smirking or smiling when I wasn’t outright laughing. After pleasantly mocking the audience, himself, and even the venue in his opening address, O’Doherty spent the rest of the evening erratically jumping from topic to topic as the mood took him. Despite this lack of cohesive flow in his delivery he still put us all at our ease and kept us with him (or at least trying to catch up with him) the whole of the show.

David’s major theme for the night was how he hates hype because it just leads to disappointment and that we should all just lower our expectations. After his opening he instructed the audience to lower their expectations as he couldn’t possibly top his opening and then he touched on variants of this theme throughout his performance.

Blending talking and singing in his musical moments, David also used his bevy of keyboards to humorous advantage (and occasionally as a security blanket!) The actual songs were somewhat of a mixed bag. Certainly his last one at least – an angry musical letter of sorts addressed to ‘the internet’ – was funnier by far than the spoken introductory material on the subject.

At one stage during his show O’Doherty – referring to ridiculous government public service messages/warnings – told everyone that we all just needed to grow up as his eyes ranged to the three small plastic keyboards strewn about him on the Herald Theatre stage floor. This picture sticks in my head: a slightly awkward man with a boyish quality who seemed very comfortable with this ‘mouse-ishness’. I haven’t seen any other comic for whom standing up and crouching over on their chair was a regular position during the evening. I could imagine spending a very entertaining weekend hanging out with this guy.

Perhaps one of the lesser known internationals in this year’s programme, David is a confident performer not fazed by jokes falling flat or the audience not connecting with a line he is traversing. He simply jumps to another topic or song. In fact he even jumps topics when things are going well?! Due to this randomness it was hard to discern how much of David’s routine was planned. For example: he made multiple direct references to the lighting guy, instructing him about how to set the lighting flow for the night as he went along, suggesting to us that this was his ‘set-up’ gig for the rest of the week’s shows. However he also successfully doubled these interludes as comedic moments in themselves. It was difficult to see if this was simply melding humour with a practical objective or whether this is a conceit he’ll use in his material every night. Whatever the case, it worked pretty well on this night!

Probably the only line from his routine that consistently dived was his religious parody material. He seemed to think that this was because we thought it was distasteful but I suspect that few people actually related to any religious experience enough to find the humour in it. However, like all good overseas comics, David also ensured that he tickled the local ego a little by making a few cracks at the expense of our West Tasman neighbours and by admitting that he’d picked up some clichéd New Zealandism’s on his last trip here: “choice bro” anybody?

And you’ve got to like someone who happily takes the piss out of his own write-up in comedy festival programmes. I would encourage you to set your expectations low and get along to check out It’s David O’Doherty Time; you’re sure to be pleasantly surprised.