Comedy Festival 2008, San Francisco Bathhouse
April 29-May 3 | Reviewed by Melody Nixon

David O’Doherty is lucky. For a start, he’s Irish. All Irish are lucky in some manner, when you rub them the right way. And they eat potatoes. The Wellington crowd at the San Francisco Bathhouse wasn’t rubbing O’Doherty up quite the right way at his show’s opening night on Tuesday, but somehow we were fortunate – he complained, but he performed too. Laughs and charming insults were flung back and forth, though mostly forth. Our applause increased exponentially in the way he’d promised his show’s quality would not; by the end he was pleading with us to give him some valuable feedback (could he not hear the level of laughter?) and we were clapping ‘til our hands hurt and our abandoned chips had fallen desolately on the floor.

Secondly, David O’Doherty has a great name. It is a name he’s patented and used over and over to his advantage – it sounds lyrical, and it almost rhymes. Well okay, alliterates at best; but there’s David O’ and there’s David O’Doherty the man of ‘mild superpowers;’ there’s the comedian and the child and the singer who puts back the ‘Aha!’ in Yamaha (keyboards). O’Doherty is truly a talented performer, and the audience was the loudest (mostly) non-intoxicated audience I’ve heard at a Comedy Festival event thus far. Which lead to the show’s only grinding point – and this is pedantic, cultural even –which was the way O’Doherty insisted we weren’t cheering enough, and even went so far as to lie down in protest and depression on the floor. A nice part to his act, if rehearsed, but it had too the effect of neediness. We did our best to cheer him on, we loved him – but in the end the slightly-strained atmosphere it produced left us wondering if he just wanted us to stoke his ego. There is a limit to what a shell-shocked audience can give; we haven’t seen good comedy in a while; we don’t laugh often when we’re not drunk; we may need to be cut some slack.

But O’Doherty is lucky too because he has so many admirable qualities for a comedian. He spurns stereotypes, and even jokes about the stereotype-makers; he’s not racist or sexist or homophobic. He express thoughts that are obviously and uniquely his own. He rehearses, and he incorporates very place-specific references into his anecdotes. ANZ, Auckland, and the vast halls of Farmers all get a mention; what better way to make a kiwi audience feel appreciated. And there was only one recycled joke in the whole of It’s David O’Doherty Time which I picked up on from 2006’s performance – for a multiple festival performer that’s impressive, and rare. So is his performance – impressive, rare and the most fun; be sure to see it.

See also:
» David O’Doherty: It’s David O’Doherty Time (Reviewed by Jacob Powell)