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Michael J Dolan: Dress To Depress

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

Michael J Dolan gets fed up of people telling him he looks miserable. Sure he hates everyone, is constantly disappointed by life and feels most human achievement is pointless – but all that just gives him succour.

One day he is going to make a magnificent grumpy old man, revelling in his misery. But for now he’s more than content being a malcontent thirtysomething, a comic curmudgeon with no time for friends, the young, the old, his girlfriend, his cat, and plenty more besides.

Such feverish misanthropy powers his dense invective like a dilithium crystal. This is a non-stop hour, free of padding and rich in imagery and ideas. The obvious comparison is with Dylan Moran – and while Dolan hasn’t quite got the Irishman’s browbeaten demeanour of total exasperation, he certainly shares his world view. To wit: why doesn’t the universe just piss off an leave me alone.

He’s still a relatively new act –he was a semi-finalist in this year’s Radio 2 New Comedy Awards –yet he displays a remarkable maturity in his writing. There are, admittedly, parts of his debut hour that could do with ‘gagging up’ a bit, but you still listen to every word of his densely-argued and strongly-held opinions. The world-weary attitude itself is inherently funny – either because you’re in agreement with every word, or because you’re not and you can laugh at his self-imposed intolerance.

There’s usually an elegance in the language he uses to express his tart views describing beautifully how every conversation feels like a repeat; how everything from quantum physics to philosophy is useless, or how his life has been reduced to cleaning up after his pet. Moaning about feral youths drunkenly prowling Britain’s streets of a weekend night in a common theme in comedy, but Dolan is so descriptive, you can almost smell the WKD-coloured vomit.

Somehow, despite all this, he claims to have a childish spirit – which, if true, must have made him one of the least cheerful kids in kindergarten. Yet somehow he squares this, offering more than just relentless, if witty, gloom.

But there’s one thing Dolan has no right to be down about, and it’s this impressive calling-card of a show, firmly establishing himself as a welcome addition to the circuit and to the Fringe.

Review date: 18 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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