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How Do You Solve A Problem Like Carl Donnelly?

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

You might not think it to look at him now, but Carl Donnelly used to be a drunken lout who ran amok in Magaluf every summer and dabbled in shoplifting. It’s a far cry from his affable stand-up persona of a benign fool bumbling through a series of embarrassing incidents as best he can.

Behaviour and its consequences is the closest this loose hour gets to a theme. But it is never likely to be a high-concept show, rather a collection of entertaining anecdotes that Donnelly insists on telling unembellished, even if it mean they peter out rather than reaching conveniently neat conclusions.

After a lengthy preamble he settles into his stories proper, with mellow attitude disguising the fact he’s subtly emphasising anything that might heighten the sense of embarrassment or preposterousness of the yarns.

Sometimes, I’m not sure I share his conviction that the stories are worth repeating – but the best ones are indeed brilliant. His closing routine about the incident at the Alicia Keys concert is comedy gold, strong enough to win over any audience. A man unexpectedly having an ice cream in the woods doesn’t quite have the same impact.

Most the stories have no meaning, and are none the worse for that, though he briefly ponders the nature of fame and makes a fine point about the tabloid treatment of John Terry. Issues, though, are not what he’s about.

Although a talented comic with a distinctive voice, Donnelly appears to be suffering difficult second show syndrome. After mining a career’s worth of material for his acclaimed debut last year, the follow-up that he has to put together in just 12 months doesn’t quite realise the potential of the first. Nonetheless this is an entertaining hour, easy to enjoy, hard to hate and safe primetime bet.

Review date: 14 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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