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Jarlath Regan: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Julian Hall


Jarath Regan’s gig starts rather weirdly, but then any gig at the Assembly Rooms is weird. The unholy mix of the The Stand’s alternative programming in a corporate styled venue, one with a Jamie Oliver restaurant inside of it, takes a bit of getting used to. Ditto the permanent street party that George Street has been turned into.

Once inside the packed Studio 1,with its questionable layout and sight lines, one member of the audience is disgruntled with his seating arrangement. To his credit the personable Regan talks the situation around. Then the phone belonging to the wife of the man complaining about their seats goes off.

It’s not the best start, but the 32-year-old shrugs it off quickly to get into his stride. The loose thread holding his set together is a mooted move to London, occasioned by his partner. The former graphic designer, also puts the move in the context of the flagging Irish economy and makes a nice analogy between the government’s recourse to the IMF and a child running to their parents for urgent help, but sparing them any awkward detail.

The opening is sprightly then, but, after the politics and a little bit of national profiling, things get a bit stringy. In a routine about kids writing to TV shows, Regan admits that he wrote to Ireland’s answer to The Clothes Show, Head2Toe. He’s relieved to find, in later life, someone else from his town that did the same, but this discovery ends with a rather cheap gag about masculinity,   not in the spirit of the rest of his set. Regan is Mr Nice Guy and so anything that runs counter to that is going to stick out a mile.

The Irishman regroups with some background colouring of his wife, painting a stereotypical picture of her badgering him with inane questions while he is watching the climax of last season’s Premier League decider between Manchester United and Manchester City. He paints it well, though, so it’s clearly a faithful reproduction and not an abstract.

Equally genuine is the advice his wife gives him about keeping their child from crying. This advice is then used as the payoff for an almost non-anecdote about his wife returning from a hen do in Kilkenny and feeling the after-effects of drink.

Sensing the lack of reception for this routine, the set becomes untidy and segues seem to be abandoned. He settles again with two routines about happenings at comedy gigs he has played in Dublin. Both are fairly solid, but they have a tenuous claim to any theme and, for me, to rely on war stories of your own profession is a bit carnivorous.

Again Regan is to be damned with the faint praise that there is better to come from him. He’s played the Fringe every year since 2007, and maybe that’s the problem. It could be that he needs to let his routines breathe for longer and give himself some more options, so he doesn’t have to rely on material that is there simply to make up the hour.

Review date: 19 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Julian Hall
Reviewed at: Assembly Rooms

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