Carlsberg Comedy Carnival 2009, Day 2

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Jay Richardson

Day two began with cancellations as Jason Manford stayed home with his pregnant wife and Hans Teeuwen pulled out due to illness.

The non-flying Dutchman’s absence was initially attributed to swine flu, but by the afternoon his diagnosis had been downgraded to regular sniffles. Come the evening though, I found myself chatting to another comic convinced Teeuwen’s artistic integrity and work ethic meant that it had to be porcine.

Teeuwen’s replacement, PJ Gallagher, certainly announced it as such on stage, disappointing the smattering of Dutch and Belgians in the audience, though the majority of the crowd were thrilled to have one of their own performing instead.

My night began well, with Andrew Stanley introducing two musical comics: David O’Doherty and Bo Burnham. Stanley was a workmanlike MC, building a solid rapport with the crowd by exploring the duration of various relationships, splitting the room down north and south Dublin lines and just generally bemoaning his unruly hair.

Shuffling on with guitar, 18-year-old Burnham appeared agitated throughout his performance, continually checking his clock and jumping up, sitting down, pacing the front row. The internet sensation from Massachusetts, currently claiming almost 50million You Tube hits to his name, worried aloud that many of his American cultural references wouldn’t resonate this side of the pond.

And in truth, many didn’t, the intricacy of his lyrics ensuring he simply couldn’t modify the allusions. But whether in beat poem, haiku or porn rendered in Shakespearean verse, his dazzling invention and precocious wit carried him through any momentary incomprehension and he absolutely stormed. His signature rap I’m Bo Yo won a rapturous ovation and a tremendous line about Anne Frank followed by an even more astute observation on the rape whistle industry betrayed the imagination of a master comic. Wonderful stuff.

David O’Doherty performed most of the set I’d watched the night before, but it lost little in repetition and he creditably mixed it up a bit. In came a tirade about Chris Rock’s now legendary failure to tailor his material in Dublin, with persistent references to ‘your Queen’.

Also, there was the surprisingly sweet story of 12-year-old O’Doherty’s introduction to the naked female form. His recollection of telescopic Peeping Tom-ism would be significantly less endearing coming from so many comics, but it finished with the adult DOD touchingly tongue-tied when properly introduced to the object of his adolescent lust, ‘Jupiter’s moons’ as she’d hitherto been known.

Less than an hour later and I received my first real disappointment of the festival. The excitable PJ Gallagher knows how to work a room, but his boundless energy can’t disguise the fact that much of his material is distinctly ordinary. One lengthy routine, relying on the tedious repetition of the phrase ‘sneaky poo’ in a ‘cool’ African-American accent, found him guilty of reinforcing the same kind of lazy stereotyping he accused a store assistant of. Another gag, on surviving the aftermath of a plane crash with a whistle was nailed significantly better by Eddie Izzard over a decade ago.

Still, if Gallagher was a poor substitute for Teeuwen’s risky innovation, at least he turned up. Andrew Maxwell took the stage in spirit but he looked soused. His reputation won him several minutes of indulgence from his fellow Dubliners, as he baldly declared Michael Jackson a paedophile, before mischievously suggesting flogging child photos of yourself online for others’ dark predilections.

Sadly, his sharpest observation was his claim to be the drunkest in the room. One too many repeated enquiries about who’d travelled furthest to attend tonight’s gig brought a chorus of boos, demands for refunds and the reappearance of compere Bernard O’Shea, who returned looking visibly unsettled as Maxwell departed.

Having previously regaled with the tale of how he lost his virginity to an older Dutch woman, before casting off his clothes to reveal a fluorescent green, high visibility vest and tight shorts combo – props for a series of traffic misdirecting pranks – there were cries for the former folk musician to strip fully naked.

Instead, he opted for settling everyone down with a couple of songs. Establishing himself as a temperamental figure of scorned ginger pity and explosive vengeance, he delivered the best performance of the show by some distance.

Review date: 25 Jul 2009
Reviewed by: Jay Richardson

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