Carlsberg Cat Laughs 2010 [5]: The Pursuit Of Happiness

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

Well, when you’ve got a load of comedians all in one place, you might as well use them. The Pursuit Of Happiness was a scavenger hunt around Kilkenny, with a series of ridiculously easy clues leading to locations where comedians would be waiting. Get all their names – and even, to be frank, if you don’t – to discover the location of the gig at the end of the trail.

Gimmick it may be, but it certainly lent an air of camaraderie to the subsequent show. Although as co-host Andrew Stanley observed, the quest could have been renamed ‘give comedians’ egos a kicking’ – as many of the comics willing to stand around for 45 minutes to be identified weren’t exactly household names, so spent the duration explaining who they were…

The show itself was a festival version of the Mish Mash Club, a loose, Knockabout show Stanley co-hosts with Fred Cooke that has an unhealthy fascination with biscuits. Unhealthy in that free samples of the sugar-heavy treat were handed out at the end.

Games and polls were held to decide which type of biscuit we would get; allowing for plenty of rambunctious, silly banter with the audience. The compere’s friend of ‘where are you from?’ being given a new twist if the answer can influence the snack choice.

Stanley and Cooke prove playful hosts with easy banter seamlessly merged with prepared material, while Cooke, the face of Spar supermarket ads, got to show off his musical prowess, notably his party trick of playing any popular song the audience suggested on two melodicas – plastic ‘blow-organs’. In the hugely entertaining climax, he would play further requested hits on guitar, but with the lyrics rewritten to reflect the biscuit obsession.

Such musical parodies are rightfully scorned as cheap comedy, but these were wittily done, while the spontaneity adds a thrill you don’t get with prepared material.

The Mish Mash Club also features a number of guests – and while it doesn’t work quite as well when trying to be a more conventional comedy night, there were some treats in store.

Best of these was Damian Clark – one of the clues on the treasure hunt. A lively and engaging performer, this Dublin-based Australian regaled us with an entertaining anecdote from that very afternoon, before his piece de resistance: an hilariously daft routine involving a surprise prop we won’t reveal here. Suffice to say it was unforgettable stuff.

Neil Hickey’s dry wit didn’t quite fit with the disorderly nature of the gig, but he had a few lovely lines in the mix; while the unknown comic performing stand-up as a horse might have worked, but adding an extra layer that he was a terrible comedian, bombing on every line, was a step too far, and turned out to bomb for real too.

But as a whole the Mish Mash Club is as much as a sweet, guilty pleasure as the bickies handed out at the end.

Review date: 10 Jun 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Kilkenny KK Ormonde

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