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Paul McCaffrey: Name in Lights

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Hilary Wardle

Paul McCaffrey is a solid comedian who, like Ronseal, does exactly what he says on the tin - something that’s evidenced by the fact that he really does have his name in lights. The backdrop to his show is a retina-burning neon sign that cost him £500, but it’s well worth the price in subliminal advertising. After all, the audience are all staring at it for a full hour, so it’s unlikely we’ll ever forget his name. In fact, several days on it’s still there whenever we close our eyes.

Paul’s cheeky, self-deprecating humour is entirely at odds with the ego-boosting lights behind him. He explains that he bought them to send a message to an old teacher who, when Paul announced that he’d ‘have his name in lights’ one day, sneered ‘what, you?’

The rest of the show centres around the (many) times people have either doubted, underestimated or patronised him, though to be fair, he does seem to be a bit of an unlikely candidate for success. He looks like the love child of David Mitchell and a passing hobbit and cuts a fairly unprepossessing figure in his baggy grey jumper and jeans. In fact, you’d be forgiven for mistaking him for the taxi driver who brought the real comedian to the gig.

However, there’s no doubt that Paul really is the comedian in question. His jokes- largely about himself- rarely fail to hit the mark and his rapport with the audience is excellent. It’s no surprise when he reveals that he used to be a London pub landlord.

He’s warm, witty and inherently likeable, riffing on subjects as diverse as Coke Zero, visits to the gym and his failure to tan on holiday. It’s fairly standard anecdotal stuff, but it’s polished, warm and well rehearsed. The only real misstep is the song at the end, as Paul isn’t the best singer and his lyrics, though funny, aren’t really witty enough to overcome wriggles of awkwardness from the audience.

Will he ever have his name in lights without having to fork over a month’s rent for the privilege? That remains to be seen, but in the short term he’s a reliable comic who guarantees a fun hour in return for your cash… though be careful not to tilt your head, say ‘ahhh, bless you for trying’ or admit that you hadn’t expected much from him. He really doesn’t like that.

Review date: 13 Aug 2013
Reviewed by: Hilary Wardle

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