Keith Farnan’s appeal is that he is both a loveable Irish rogue and an acerbic politico. An agile performer, Farnan is able to flit between the endearing absurdities of traditional social mores and the Big Questions of love, life and death; I never thought I would enjoy being told I was going to die!
According to Farnan, humans are guided by fear. Everything we do is a reaction to fear, which is also why we’re so fascinated by it; Hollywood disaster movies, anyone? Farnan explains his adult phobias by exploring the culture of fear that defined his childhood and by the end, we all felt like we got to know him. A self-confessed hypochondriac, his anecdotes largely boil down to creative avoidance tactics in aid of self-preservation. Surely, I cannot be the only person who relates to this!
He also tackled lighter subjects such as holidays and relationship woes, but always avoided clichés and engaged us throughout. His joke about ‘bungalow’ being the most deathly word in the English Language was a particular favourite. However, every joke was delivered with enthusiasm and warmth and he resisted the urge to shout at the audience. Indeed, Farnan’s visible enjoyment was infectious and rather than alienating us by being a big-haired verbose know-it-all, he came across as a cuddly – yet sufficiently grizzly – bear who just wanted us to have a good time.
Farnan’s delivery is in fact so natural that you can occasionally forget that you’re waiting on a punchline. Indeed, wrapped up in his own delight, Farnan’s jokes were sometimes a little too drawn-out. However, he always redeemed himself immediately and charmed us with his deeply personal touch. His section on love – which one is the right one? – was both lovely and hilarious.
Pleasingly, Farnan’s show advanced the well-trodden ground of Irish Catholicism with intelligence and creativity and a section on homophobia was particularly successful. Despite occasional moments where panicked paranoia lost momentum in the comedy stakes, the show was exceedingly well structured and his genuine love for life left everyone with a smile.