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Carl Donnelly: Relax Everyone, It's Carl Donnelly - Fringe 2009

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Nione Meakin

Carl Donnelly used to think he was going to be a boundary-pushing comic, 'Mr Edgy Pants'. But after an awkward gig in which he stumbled into a political minefield, he decided to change tack and just do 'silly comedy.' As he says, his use of the term 'Mr Edgy Pants' should perhaps have been an indicator of his limitations.

Happily, this 27-year-old South Londoner is very good at silly. Rather like a video shop Russell Howard (‘I'm not a character act,’ he says of his mass of hair and tinted glasses, ‘I look like this all the time.’), Donnelly manages to elevate such dippy observations like his bafflement at the workings of the Subway sandwich chain or his unwitting participation in a surburban dogging incident into lyrical, pacey, naturalistic stand-up.

He's all about the storytelling, with long, rambling build-ups in which he will stumble endearingly over words or, indeed, just make them up, then take a few detours onto other, only slightly related areas, before ending on a killer punchline.

These are well constructed anecdotes, delivered deceptively casually, but a little variation in rhythm would be welcome, as there’s no sense of crescendo. Similarly, this debut solo show demonstrates that Donnelly could do with broadening the scope of his material. While his take on wanking, drinking and chats with his mates down the pub is fresher, funnier and far less blokey than it sounds on paper, it's a little obvious.

But these are no biggies really and easy to overlook in the face of Donnelly's winning persona. It's just impossible not to warm to this self-deprecating, idiosyncratic slacker who gets flustered about using 'swearsies' in front of an audience member's mum, delights in people mishearing his name and, on the edge of death after a heavy drinking incident, laments never having been in a motorbike pyramid.

Watch his star rise.

Review date: 15 Aug 2009
Reviewed by: Nione Meakin

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