Carl Donnelly has reached peak age, he’s a vegan, he recently took up yoga, and he’s content with his life – I know it doesn’t sound like a good recipe for stand-up but somehow, it really, really is.
Carl Donnelly is not one to miss this year
His previous work has always been based on some sort of tragedy, trauma or crisis in his life – topics like bad relationships or being down on his luck – but this year, Donnelly returns to the Fringe with, as he puts it, a pretty good life, and not one that involves many “comedy gold” moments. However, he manages to have us in fits of laughter and creates a serious feeling of empathy in the room with his quips and stories about his newfound, middle-class, 30-something life.
The jokes roll on with various references to health fads, national pride, yoga and puberty. Donnelly strikes a perfect balance between material that is a little bit silly and stupid (but still relatable) and material that’s a bit more grown-up and serious. He interacts well with his audience, and they clearly love him – with some veteran fans returning year after year.
A true testament to his talent is that I don’t think I’ve ever heard of, or seen, somebody make being a vegan so hysterical without actually offending vegans; yet Donnelly manages to do this and gets us all rippling with laughter about the trivial questions and stereotypes he is bombarded with by choosing this way of living. I think being able to get your moral opinion across in stand-up is incredibly difficult, yet Carl manages to do this without offence or anger but purely with his comedic way with words.
This man is a rare creature – he is inherently funny, and his stand-up feels natural and free flowing; he loses his train of thought regularly and provides us with anecdotes and jokes clearly never made for his show but that just come out in the moment. It makes the entire experience of his performance easy to enjoy and proper tears-in-the-eyes, laugh-out-loud funny, and I like knowing that his show must be that little bit different every night for his audience.
Carl Donnelly is not one to miss this year – there will be bum jokes, there will be jogging jokes and even a sprinkle of political jokes – but you will definitely have sore cheeks from laughing and smiling for an entire hour.