Paul McMullan’s debut fringe show is stuffed full of clever insights into the world of British drinking culture and its potentially destructive nature. The show is less stand-up and more spoken-word and storytelling, yet still manages to be an amusing and heartfelt piece from an endearing and engaging performer.
A slow-burner but I feel it is a tale that will stick with me for some time.
McMullan’s show opens with a tale of his life slowly falling apart due to our protagonist’s over-eager attitude to drinking. Realisation of the situation he’s found himself in only really hitting home after he has been fired from his job and accidentally bought not one, but two, dogs. The story then goes on to discuss recovery and how he lives now. It manages to never feel sanctimonious and yet manages to dole out some broadly-applicable advice. As a story, and as a storyteller, McMullan is absolutely fantastic. He has an easy charm, and a knack for bringing out the comedy in otherwise hefty subject matter.
The laughs were far from uproarious, but a steady chuckle rumble through the audience mostly continuously. McMullan seemed a little preoccupied with getting the laugh, even with the occasional jokes that landed flat, and stumbles when the laugh isn’t got. He seems to have a handy stash of ‘get out of the joke’ jokes that began to feel repetitive and very obviously covers for jokes not being received as desired. McMullan shouldn’t be scared to let the jokes slide if poorly received, the story is compelling enough without them.
As the show continued I found myself more and more invested in McMullan. The show is a slow-burner but I feel it is a tale that will stick with me for some time.