Conor Drum:... If | Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett
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Conor Drum:... If

Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett

Everyone is embarrassed about their teenage years, except teenagers themselves. But Conor Drum has turned some of the most cringe-inducing memories of his time in a band into something valuable – the backbone of this highly entertaining hour of anecdotes.

He had been a happy-go-lucky, if mischievous, child – albeit one who managed to get kept back a year in playschool and went on to indulge in some dangerously unsupervised experiments with his best pal. But he seemed to undergo a transformation into a sullen greasy-haired, angst-ridden rocker almost overnight. Harry Enfield’s classic Kevin The Teenager sketch comes to mind.

The ravers who bullied him in his Dublin school called him Mmmbop, because they thought his long hair made him look like the band Hanson, while his parents were clearly controlling Nazis who never let him do anything. It’s SO unfair. That and his lack of success with women were the great injustices which informed his songwriting, a tortured misunderstood ‘incel’ with raging hormones.

These memories came flooding back when Drum’s parents found an old demo tape of his band, …If – which isn’t a bad name, as it happens, chosen after trying on various truly terrible ones for size. And while they were never destined for greatness, their enthusiasm earned them an unusual encounter with U2, courtesy of drummer Larry Mullen.

All these tales are told with verve and a wit that’s archly self-deprecating – especially when it comes to the obligatory embarrassing period photographs –  while also acknowledging that forming a band despite lack of real talent is exactly the sort of experimentation that builds character. He’s charming and affable – you’d need to be in the tiny room he’s playing – and brings the stories to life. 

Drum’s also skilled at weaving other yarns into the story. Quite how he came to be talking of a stag party in Prague, is fuzzy – but the memories of him and his mates playing the mother of all pranks on the groom-to-be are priceless, and make for quite the gripping yarn.  He’s also got a story of being mugged, which he puts in a broader context, and some quirky observations about zoo animals that are tacked on to the main narrative, albeit so skilfully it doesn’t break the flow.

There are no great revelations here; we learn that teenagers are self-conscious but unselfaware, that porn gives unrealistic expectations of sex, and you should maybe think twice when a pal suggests setting gunpowder alight. In a nod to the expectations of a solo hour, Drum projects some message from the core story about the benefits of doing things just for the hell of it, no matter how it’ll look in hindsight. 

But that’s not the point: this is simply an hour of strong stand-up storytelling, funny, free-flowing and friendly.

Review date: 21 Aug 2018
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Laughing Horse @ City Cafe

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