PJ Gallagher

PJ Gallagher

Carlsberg Cat Laughs 2010 [4]

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

After 16 years of Cat Laughs, Kilkenny crowds tend to be a comedy-savvy bunch up for a good laugh. But a Friday late show is a Friday late show wherever you are, and compere Ian Coppinger was presented with something of a challenge from the better-lubricated elements of the front rows.

But his years of experience are not for nothing (he’s only missed one of these festivals, for instance) and deftly pulled off the necessary crowd control work without alienating the attention-seekers.

Opening act Justin Moorhouse is always going to be associated with the stereotype of the chubby, cheery Northern comic, for that’s exactly what his personality is. And he sometimes doesn’t seem to be exactly challenging it with one chunk of material that could be summarised as ‘my co-worker’s so fat that…’

But that’s as far as it goes, for even that routine is fiercely biting, the harsh edges hidden behind the jovial bonhomie. Moorhouse is often a sharper operator than his appears, so even when he’s talking about mainstream, easily relatable subjects such as not really liking his kids, or describing a fraught trip to Disneyland Paris, the writing displays enjoyable flourishes you might not immediately expect.

Next up was man of the moment Kevin Bridges, fresh from his appearances at the SECC, Friday Night With Jonathan Ross – and the medical centre where he had been treated for a severe bout of foot poisoning that almost put the kibosh on his festival appearances.

But he recovered in time, for which the Kilkenny audience should be very grateful, given that he treated them to such an impressive set. The 23-year-old, who looks, acts and has the comic instincts well beyond his years, is a master of the natural, conversational style. He feels like a man down the pub, moaning about Dublin’s public transport, recalling out-of-hand house parties in the poor part of Glasgow where he grew up, or his Dad surreptitiously watching late-night porn in the early days of satellite TV.

This is less about brilliant lines, than it is about spending time with someone entertainingly shooting the breeze, The importance of his brusque Clydebank tones shouldn’t be underestimated, either. He can make a phrase as simple as ‘Easter holiday’ drip with both menace and impending disappointment – neither of which you get from this effortlessly funny comedian.

Delivery, of course, plays a key part in Andy Parsons’s topical set, with that nasal whine and purposeful meter imposing rigid timings on every line. The quality of his gags is variable, possibly a consequence of being so freshly minted, but even the more modest quips get a laugh.

Yet he’s also got some real corkers in his set – with the best line yet about the BP oil spill, a brilliantly silly scenario inspired by the volcanic ash crisis and even a few takes on Irish politics to play to this audience.

It was Naked Camera’s PJ Gallagher the crowd had come to see, though – even though his stand-up has previously consisted of the most hack material, delivered in a breathlessly exciteable way.

Things didn’t auger well when he started this set with a gag about being recognised from the TV by a homeless man that Graham Norton did when he first started to become famous, all those years ago. He repeatedly mentioned that he was trying to write new stuff, though it seems he doesn’t really need to try all that hard as even the most mundane material – such as his description of running late – is s met with very vocal approval from the crowd. They equally adore his mocking impression of a lad with a speech impediment, though more sensitive listeners might think it cruel to mock the afflicted in such a way.

But then the other half of the set show what he’s really capable of; comparing recent air travel troubles to Lost is a nice gag, while two strong anecdotes about attending a Travellers’ wedding anniversary, and taking part in a charity boxing match demonstrated a deft talent for engaging, self-deprecating storytelling. Let’s home that new material he’s so desperately trying to create takes him further along this route.

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Published: 10 Jun 2010

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