Winner of the 2012 Chortle Award for best newcomer
Pat Cahill Videos
Pat Cahill: Start
From what he tells us, it’s a miracle that Pat Cahill got this show written at all. By his own portrayal, he is a man who tries to ignore anything that might make his life difficult. Problems are to be tucked away, to be forgotten, his mind occupied with pointless displacement activities instead.
In that, he’s probably the epitome of the shiftless Common Man. But the alternative places where his imagination goes instead of facing up to real life are very much unique to him, producing a decidedly off-kilter Edinburgh debut. Start has its ups and downs, but always has a flavour of something distinctive, if not fully-formed.
His forte is writing jingles, whether a supportive chant for dressage fans to shout; an extension of the ‘beer and wine is fine’ slogan that more accurately represents a messy night out; or a paean to the humble chicken set to an electronic backbeat.
Indeed, music forms a substantial part of the show, from the moment it opens with a version of She Sells Sanctuary with a surprisingly long intro, to 19 Nervous Breakdowns, which allows him to fire off oddball one-liners, amusingly disorientating the audience.
He likes the rhythm of words, you see, packing them together tightly so the components become almost meaningless but the composite takes on a power of its own. Case in point is how his empty affirmations urging us to keep ploughing on through life transform into a meaningless babble. It’s wordplay, but not puns – at least not often.
There’s a glint in his eye acknowledging that much of this is nonsense, but it requires his commitment. Indeed he follows his own advice to ‘keep on trucking’ even through segments the audience are less convinced about (usually with good reason). If you ever find yourself thinking ‘is he really going to go all the way through with this?’, the answer is inevitably ‘yes’. A stubbornness that’s admirable, frustrating or possibly both at one.
There are too many sections that don’t fully come off to wholeheartedly recommend this, but Cahill – last year’s Chortle best newcomer winner – shows a level of invention that suggests he will be a comedic force to be reckoned with.