Father John's Evening Mess | Brighton Fringe comedy review
review star review blank star review blank star review blank star review blank star

Father John's Evening Mess

Brighton Fringe comedy review

The poster for Father John’s debut show carries a quote from Viz co-founder Simon Donald, which holds the promise of some gloriously ribald filth. But it’s a mood John O’Sullivan cannot muster among a dozen or so people at the end of a long day… instead the entire audience seems awkward and embarrassed about what half-hearted crudity they had let themselves in for.

The fictional priest has that stereotypical, reassuring sing-song voice that epitomises the clergy, especially the comedy clergy. He is also a sexual menace because… well, he’s Catholic so of course he is.  O’Sullivan – who worked with Vaun Norman, a regular on Vic and Bob’s revived Shooting Stars on the character – hasn’t looked too far for originality.

This man of God makes plenty of crass jokes about going on your knees and accepting the body of Christ, you know the sort of thing. There’s not a lot of subtlety here, save for his soft-spoken manner supposedly suggesting an innocence that clearly isn’t present. It’s schoolboy stuff, but robbed of any naughtiness, so leaving just a succession of crass knob gags.

O’Sullivan doesn’t even stick to the character much, occasionally telling us things that are true of his real life. But that he used to go to raves isn’t much of a surprise, where it might be of a real priest (though even so, maybe not). To prove it, he dances to the Vengaboys here, too. Don’t really know why.

Audience interaction is painful. I can envisage a rowdier, more drunken crowd possibly buying into it. But his first victim here turned out to be a real youth pastor, which didn’t help. He proved a good sport, but snuck out of the gig shortly afterwards, probably more in resigned boredom than offence. 

That was certainly the pained mood of the rest of the room, until O’Sullivan freed us by bringing the advertised hour to an end after 30 minutes. It felt like he was 20 minutes too late.

Unusually for a Brighton Fringe show, Father John's Evening Mess is on every single night of the festival. It’ll either be a long month, or O’Sullivan will figure out a way of making his alter-ego more than a vessel for obvious double entendres.

Enjoy our reviews? Like us to do more? Please consider supporting our in-depth coverage of Britain's live comedy scene with a monthly or one-off ko-fi donation, if you can. The more you support us, the more we can cover! 

Review date: 14 May 2024
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Brighton Hare & Hounds

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.