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Carl Donnelly 3: Carl Donnelier

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Julian Hall

Carl Donnelly could have called his show 'Dude Where's My Carl' but chose this rather more wordy banner after crowdsourcing suggestions on Twitter. It's an argument against social networking, perhaps, but the title is one of the few things wrong with this super show.

It turns out that Donnelly is actually quite sceptical of Twitter and its like, and he's rightly concerned that social media will stunt the storytelling capacity of young people. Perhaps if he were a one-liner merchant he might not be so concerned by this, but he's an engaging spinner of yarns and his concern, like so much of his performance, is genuine.

I don't know whether it is the image change that has seen Donnelly go from Hair Bear Bunch member to a young Rolf Harris, but the 29-year-old is sharper than I have ever seen him – and he was always pretty ‘bang on’, as he would say.

At the top of the show he spends a fair amount of time housekeeping, explaining his quirks and asking us to indulge him in his excitement at being with an audience as some days punters are the first people he sees. Donnelly is no over-excited pixie-ish stand up though, rather giggly and straightforward and canny enough to totally negate any disruption that could have come from two drunk members of his front row.

The scene-setting leads neatly into a section about spending time on his own and how he crafts jokes from, for example, seeing two films at the cinema and trying the same gag on two different staff, ‘a double bill joke’ he describes it as.

Whatever the room for exaggeration, Donnelly has the gift of making any scenario sound plausible - including stopping the traffic after an England victory in a World Cup game to making his Subway sandwich routine into a dance routine.

Among these yarns are some pure and simple observations, including his justified attack on a society so lazy that grapes, apples and pears have ended up part of the pre-packaged fruit range.

During this routine he decides that he has muddled the order and jokes about the shame of workshopping his show half-way through the festival. He's being a perfectionist and the reason why it is forgivable and even loveable is because he's done so much else right.

Review date: 15 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Julian Hall

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