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Keith Farnan: Fear Itself

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Steve Bennett

Betwixt his sprawling hair and unkempt beard, Keith Farnan has something of the wildman look about him – an image strengthened by his vigorous delivery. But the only thing really running wild is his brain, fizzing with thought and ideas. He gabbles them out with the zeal of a salesman pitching for his life, moving fast from one point to the next to keep you dazzled, and not looking too closely at the small print.

As you’d know from the title, his subject is fear, from the Irish mammies who instil the idea that outside is where mortal danger lies, to prejudices born from anxiety, to the fear of not standing up for what we believe, to the terror of saying, ‘I love you’, and really meaning it.

He cracks through these at quite a lick, and plenty more beside. You’d have to be paying attention to realise there was much of a theme at all, which is is probably how it should be. The speed and verve of the monologue carries you along, and covers up for some lapses in the humorous content (such as the idea fighting homophobes with a van full of naked gay men, which is odd and also stereotypical in its own way). But plenty of sections match the smart thinking with smart gags – oh, and some dumb ones too, he’s definitely a mixed-ability comic.

Talk of his relationship adds some emotional food for thought, while his bottling out of joining a pro-democracy protest in Bahrain throws some ambiguity into his righteous moral polemic... is he all mouth and no action? None of these ideas is too overblown, just mentioned in passing, which might deny Farnan the sort of sucker-punch that wins the big acclaim, but this is accomplished stand-up, honed in the clubs but smarter than most. And he certainly has the passionate performance to sell it.

That club background also helps him deal with a couple of good-natured, but frisky, audience members, skilfully incorporating their desire to join in but keeping the narrative bundling along. Hecklers certainly hold no fear for him.

Review date: 4 Aug 2013
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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