Bernard O'Shea: Do Not Adjust Your Mind, Reality Is At Fault

Note: This review is from 2008

Review by Steve Bennett

Bernard O’Shea is either an undiscovered, if unfocussed comedy mastermind, or a troubled soul with a tenuous grip on his own sanity. After an hour in his company, you’ll be none the wiser. I’m not sure if he knows himself.

He comes on wearing far too many layers for a hot Fringe venue, with a rucksack on his back, and starts singing and strumming his guitar. By the end, he’s half-naked, wearing a balaclava, Palestinian kaffiyeh headscarf and fluorescent shorts which he’s accessorised with… a handgun.

In an almost too-honest monologue, this former bedwetter (told you he was too honest) from rural Laois in central Ireland ponders whether his life amounts to anything, and what it’s like to go mad, seemingly unaware that he’s already displaying many of the symptoms.

For the first half of the show, he certainly appears rambling and semi-coherent. The fact he’s still got that backpack on is troubling, too.

There’s some mediocre stand-up about animals, before he moves on to a diatribe about the ills of the modern world, caused by the demands of time and money, that so clearly trouble him. You see what he’s getting at, but he seems a bit intense. If this was a letter, it’d be in green ink on a torn-off bit of cereal box. He quotes French philosopher Michel Foucault one minute, trashy tabloid magazine Closer the next.

But as the show progresses, the marbles you felt he’d lost start sliding into their places. A bigger picture appears, and all the threads of his unconnected routines tie up nicely. Some of the earlier segments didn’t seem all that strong, but you now see why he used them.

It’s delivered calmly, mostly, but with the confidence of a man who knows he’s right. Then he will occasionally burst into much more manic energy, literally spilling out of the venue. The dryly witty songs that bookend the show have a feel of Boothby Graffoe about them, which is a pretty good influence to have, but generally you’d be hard-pressed to make comparisons with other comedians. He is one of a kind.

Quite possibly nuts; but one of a kind nonetheless.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2008
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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