Mo Gilligan

Mo Gilligan

Mo Gilligan became a breakout star through his online videos, notably with his 'Coupla Cans' catchphrase. It led to his own late-night Channel 4 show as well as being a sidekick on The Big Narstie show with the same broadcaster. Originally performing as 'Mo The Comedian', he started in comedy in 2007 and was a finalist in the Laughing Horse new act of the year 2013.
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Mo Gilligan: There’s Mo To Life

Review of his latest Netflix special

Mo Gilligan’s dizzying rise is the stuff of dreams: from making online comedy videos to hosting The Brits in the space of five years. Now, between primetime TV stints and headlining The O2, comes his second Netflix special.Few people get so big so quickly by

reinventing the artform, and the basis of much of his act is as mainstream as it gets, re-enacting a night out with the lads, tough-love parenting, the gender differences in relationships, or an all-woman brunch.

Yet he hasn’t got here without graft, and Gilligan sure has the experience to know how to sell a routine. The entertaining verve he brings to his act-outs transforms familiar moments into polished routines that everyone can relate to

Most of There’s Mo To Life is set not in his new life, but in his earlier days, struggling from pay cheque to pay cheque and ‘so broke you pray’. However, he does talk briefly about the oddities of fame, having a chauffeur drive him to the set of a TV show, only to encounter a producer asking him to do something demeaning and quite possibly racist. The takeaway is that Gilligan is not someone of the showbiz world into which he seems so easily at home.

Indeed, a strong part of this show is about code-switching – or adopting different personas depending on the situation. Everyone does it to an extent, but when it’s a working-class black kid adopting to a middle-class white world, there are layers of social commentary that Gilligan highlights without ever needing to say it.

His first job was firmly within that bourgeois territory: flogging fancy, pricey candles in the Jo Malone shop in the Westfield Centre in West London. It sets up one of the most impressive routines here, about one of his mandem paying a visit, that plays on the gulf between the two worlds.

When ambient music kicks in underneath this section, it’s intrusive, a theatrical device that undermines the illusion that this is just a likeable bloke having a spontaneous chat – but it ultimately leads up to a dramatic beat that has an impact. Later, his use of music is unequivocally an asset, making time-honoured tales about a night out drinking, taking selfies and defusing fights feel more urgent and contemporary than they otherwise would.

Recreating a club vibe, as best as a stand-up gig can, is part of Gilligan’s appeal. There’s plenty of call-and-response here, firing up the crowd at the Hammersmith Apollo. Even if the effect is greatly diluted through the screen, you know everyone’s having a ball in the room. It’s a great advert for his live shows.

And while Gilligan is undeniably a slick, assured entertainer, more than enough honesty and likeable humility shines through. He seems more relaxed in his confidence even compared to the 2019 Netflix special Momentum, with an easy charm that should endear him to any viewer.

Mo Gilligan: There’s Mo To Life is out now on Netflix

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Published: 23 Feb 2022

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