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David O\'Doherty in World Champion of Some Things

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

David O'Doherty has made a major change in the direction of his comedy this year, going from what he calls low-key musical whimsy to "very low-key musical whimsy".

And if that's what floats your boat, there are few finer practitioners of this brand of fantastical, innocent comedy than this fragile, easygoing Irishman.

Imagination is the thread that runs through most of his sweet anecdotes, as if that's all you need to get by in this harsh, complicated world; whether it's himself posing as a top amateur golfer or an overweight teenager martial arts student picturing himself as a deadly, stealthy ninja.

Reality has a tendency to shatter these dreams, of course, and it's those moments of dawning realisation that O'Doherty finds his best work. And as that teenager suddenly and painfully realises his vulnerability, it's the inspiration for one of only a couple tender songs he plays out on a low-tech keyboard.

That's all part of the charm, of course, that O'Doherty isn't the slick, dominant entertainer of so many of his stand-up contemporaries. When he goes to Amsterdam, for instance, it's not primarily a launching-off point for the usual tales of boisterous, doped-up shenanigans ­ but to tell us he went with his youth club to represent Chile in a mock United Nations. It's a different sort of story from a different sort of comic.

The delight is in the detail, in his precisely phrased descriptions of the minutiae, such as the vivid description of his first beat-up car. The gags may not be raining down, but instead you are immersed in his sweet world.

Laid-back to the point of horizontal ­ literally at one point ­ he delivers his material leaning on a dark wall away from the stage lights or kneeling lazily on the floor, taking the standing up out of stand-up.

What he leaves is quiet charm, warm wit and an articulate way with words, creating a modest wonder of an hour.

Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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