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Paul McCaffrey: Saying Something Stupid

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Julian Hall

With a checked shirt underneath a V-neck jumper, Paul McCaffrey looks a bit like a cast member in This Is England '86. Not unlike the characters in Shane Meadows' drama, McCaffrey is genuine, down-to-earth and sometimes lacks direction.

He is hotly tipped, with his poster awash with stars and CV full of accolades – although there are so many awards and so many, often dubious, publications that review comedy, it would be quite an achievement to find a Fringe comic who isn’t.

His is a curious hour, formed of some fairly bland anecdotes randomly interwoven with general observations – for example a routine on the TV show Flog It that seems to come out of nowhere after a story about a house party.

While the structure is skewed, McCaffrey's register takes a while to settle too. The initial banter is pleasant enough, with a nice take on Edinburgh's varied street characters including tramps and drugged-up young men mistaken for a street theatre, but it sounds as if McCaffrey is giving a presentation rather than performing a stand-up set.

He loosens up but it's amusing that the past occupations that he professes not to have enjoyed –  training to be an actor and working in telesales – are both areas his delivery is better suited to. This is not to say that there isn't something here, it's just without the material to back him up, it is impossible to see his talents clearly.

If, as a comic, you are relying on anecdotes with no real peril or no punchline you're clearly in for a rough ride. His adventures include playing opposite a female lead who was too tall for him but hilarity did not ensue as his pay-off was weak. He worked at Thorpe Park and got into a bit of a scrape on a boat, but this tepid yarn is just a long set-up for a joke about a swan. Worse still is the tale of how he foxed his call centre boss by buying two muffins. OK, I am paraphrasing, of course, but doing so from premises thinner than a size zero supermodel.

The audience prove to be a spot-on laugh-o-meter throughout, not often animated but retaining enough confidence in him to give credit where credit is due, particularly for the closing anecdote about his job in a pub in London, easily his most absorbing.

Incidentally, McCaffrey is not a fan of London even though he now lives there. They way he dismisses it though would insult even the most ambivalent Londoner baulk. Rarely have I been so turned off by such a blatant bout of town or city bashing. He can add awareness of this to the various notes-to-self he ought to make.

Review date: 24 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Julian Hall

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