Caimh McDonnell

Caimh McDonnell

Caimh McDonnell: Bride And Prejudice

Review by Julia Chamberlain

Caimh McDonnell successfully mastered the difficult dance between a straightforward crowd delighting, God-I’m-so-Irish stand-up show and the critic-assuaging think piece. It’s an absolute romp through racism and other prejudice (sexual, religious) but trivialises no-one's experience or anxieties.

He has a loud and speedy delivery, where everything sounds comically emphatic, he’s got a two-tone delivery, loud and louder, delivering with such brio that it took no time at all for the audience to coalesce, hanging off his every word, even from the ice-breaking survey of nationalities at the start of the show.

As he says, he looks like a man who’s made the effort to be as white as he possibly can, with mop of prematurely white hair that Andy Warhol would have envied and a natural pallor intensified by the LED lighting in the venue that washed the colour out of everyone.

And he’s married to the lovely Elaine, a London-born Ghanaian woman. In the UK it barely draws comment, but visiting Dublin, his parents are terrified of saying the wrong thing, and the frankly 1970s approach of his dad’s golf pals doesn’t help matters. His stories of prejudice are gently anecdotal, dealing more with clumsy tactlessness and social anxiety than ferocious, institutionalised racism or the antics of the EDL – although they get some stick.

He’s a smart comedian, he doesn’t clobber you over the head with testy opinions and absolute convictions. His first drive is to entertain – job done – the educating and informing is secondary and achieved without anyone feeling preached at.

McDonnell knows how to hold the crowd in the palm of his hand and keep them roaring. He’s warm, vigorous, charming, with no ‘diddly feck’ element to con us, just excellent, tightly constructed stories and a cracking pace.

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Published: 24 Aug 2015

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