Seann Walsh: Is Dead. Happy Now? | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Seann Walsh: Is Dead. Happy Now?

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Four years on and the spectre of THAT kiss still hangs over Seann Walsh.

He addressed the emotional fallout from being photographed snogging his married Strictly dance partner Katya Jones in his last, impressive stand-up hour (now available for free on YouTube) but he’s still reeling from its consequences. Who signs up for a light entertainment dancing competition and ends up with post-traumatic stress disorder, he asks incredulously, and repeatedly.

At his lowest, when made a pariah by the press, he had suicidal thoughts, which he candidly shares in this new show, alongside the hilarious reason why he didn’t go through with it. Tabloid interest also led to his ex making some serious accusations of gaslighting and coercive control, which led to him being further ostracised by the comedy circuit where he had once felt so at home.

Audiences will have their own opinion on whether that was deserved or not, and Walsh doesn’t seek their pity – just an understanding of his experiences in the aftermath of the kiss. Not does he engage with her allegations, realising he’s in a lose-lose situation if he was to be drawn into a public exchange. She did get a book out of it though, he notes caustically.

But his big news is that he feels well for the first time since his world came crashing down. Some good might even have come from all this as, with the aid of a therapist, the comic is now trying to get his chaotic existence in order, even, reluctantly, facing up to the prospect of giving up the one thing he enjoys most: alcohol.

He’s still frustrated about his situation – including the fact that he pissed away all the money he earned in his younger days on trivial things, as illustrated with one great example  – but he is trying to process it all. The extremes he has endured have certainly given a serious foundation and a strong sense of purpose to his stand-up that his early work about being a feckless layabout could never hope to achieve.

Walsh lays his life of disarray at the door of his father, who is the subject of the equally frank second half of the show, as he moves on from his low point. The question is whether can he escape the expectations handed down from this shambolic, barely-coping and emotionally detached figure.

His dad’s story has a deeply serious edge, but Walsh treads lightly, not seeking sympathy for this background but understanding – just as he did when speaking about Strictly.

The comic’s energy and concentration was slightly off-beam in this extra show at lunchtime (or ‘still asleep’ time by his usual schedule) rather than its normal 10pm slot, but his story is still very engaging. In another world he could have been an impressionist, nailing comics such as Michael McIntrye doing a routine far less comfortably middle-class than usual, Josh Widdicombe, Jack Whitehall and his dad Michael. Though Walsh’s finest mimcry comes in his depiction of a heroin addict shuffling along.

The prospect of him ever being an arena-filler might now be ​slim, given what happened in the public glare. But Walsh was always a good comic and now has emerged from his darkness as a stronger, funnier and more complex one.

Seann Walsh: Is Dead. Happy Now? is on at The Stand 1 at 10pm.

Review date: 24 Aug 2022
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Stand 1

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