Karl Spain in Spain, Ireland & Beyond

Note: This review is from 2004

Review by Steve Bennett

Karl Spain is a genial, easy-going, slightly overweight Irish comic with a nice line in self-deprecation: "I've been single for three or four stone, now..."

He has a sound Irish-based routine and confronts the obvious targets head-on by finding an Englishman in the audience towards the start of his act and bringing up the Famine.

After a solid, if traditional, 20 minutes, though, he loses his way and starts jumping around between subjects, finding difficulty stretching his good 20 minute act to 60 minutes.

The very obvious stumbling point was an immensely-long build-up to a joke about the movie The Magdalene Sisters which was prepared in such careful detail that the whole pace of the act faltered and ground to a halt before an OK-but-not-worth-all-that-hassle punchline.

After that, Spain always got very genuine laughs for all his punchlines, but the build-up before each payoff was humourless and long. It was a bit like doing a pub-crawl round the speakeasys in Prohibition times - nice when you found one, but a bit dry in-between. He has to pepper his set-ups with subsidiary titter-points which build to the big laugh.

After 45 minutes he was completely, if amiably, Adrift and resorted to recommending other performers at the Fringe before finishing on an extremely long and contrived story about Jesus. Comic biblical tales may still play well in some parts of the Irish diaspora, but are at best a risky bet elsewhere.

Review date: 1 Jan 2004
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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