David O’Doherty is an Edinburgh Fringe titan. He first appeared in 1999, winning the Channel 4 So You Think You’re Funny comedy award, then coming back the next year with his first formal fringe show. More than 2 decades later he’s still packing out one of the fringe’s largest venues, and even taking advantage of the room’s utilitarian format (“there’s a clock on the wall”) as part of his routine. Regular tv appearances help to keep his profile high and his shows sold out, though there was a slight “whacky funster lawyers on a group work night out” feel to the show this reviewer attended.
The first ten minutes of the show are Billy Connolly level relentlessly funny, and you genuinely believe when he is adamant that tonight’s show, the Friday night show of the second week of the fringe, is the post-covid show that he’s been most looking forward to for the past 2+ years! And certainly a lot more than the lastminute booking ne’er-do-wells who are coming to the only recently announced extra show later that same evening…
The show is titled “Whoa is me” and it feels like the formal show doesn’t start until after that first ten minutes. What comes initially is like the explosive opening scene of any Mission Impossible movie, then the opening credits roll and he reins in the merriment with a metaphorical whoa and some literal woe.
Don’t get me wrong – he is still very funny thereafter, but there is a melancholic undertone that whilst always there in his work, particularly in his songs, is even more front and centre as he discusses the struggles of relationship breakdown immediately pre-covid, and then lockdown-life off the west coast of Ireland with his two octogenarian parents and only mint Vienetta for solace. But he is a genius, and I defy anyone to kick over a microphone stand with more panache and comedy value.
Go and see him, and not just because he was once on Sunday Brunch with Dua Lipa!