An Hour With Danielle Ward and Roisin Conaty

Note: This review is from 2005

Review by Steve Bennett

One of the programme’s more interesting double headers pairs off two of the circuit’s younger, but promising, comics.  On the strength of this show, both Danielle Ward and Roisin Conaty are offering something unusual to the often tepid stand-up landscape.

Opening the hour, Conaty is a pleasant, expressive yet often cynical comic.  In almost the same breath, she offers insights into her inquisitive offbeat world view and damning portraits of people who annoy her.  Onstage she is constantly chirpy, but also fuelled by a nervous energy which endears her to the small audience.  

Although her range of material is reasonably broad, there is a constant tendency towards the self-deprecatory as well a pervasive theme of immaturity.  At several points, she laments the fact that at the age of 26 she is moving out of youth.

There is, however, a sense that Conaty has not quite forged her own comic voice. She occasionally crosses between comedic styles –clumsily moving from the bubbly to the dry – without managing to merge them seamlessly.  Still, the best bits of writing are really very good and her likeable persona will allow her to fare well with all audiences. 

Ward, on the other hand, has settled upon a droll and slightly sinister approach.  When talking to audience members in a compere’s capacity right at the beginning, a woman in the front looks threatened by Ward’s apparent friendliness. 

Her topics read like a circus freak show, encompassing Siamese Twins, decapitations and basically any type of abnormality.  The topics are discussed in a serious and earnest fashion, suggesting a morbid fascination, like a child pulling the legs from a spider.

But the performance is not completely pitch black, as there is a sense of ironic fun threads through Ward’s performance.  Occasionally, punchlines are delivered with a wry smile, or she will outwardly acknowledge topics that may not be inherent funny.  It is most definitely to her credit, then, that she can create humour within these subject areas.   

The show’s dry finale – dressed up as something overly glamorous – nicely unites the pair’s differing perspectives as cynical comics with no desire to engage with anything with any sincerity.  A rewarding pairing.

Review date: 1 Jan 2005
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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