O’Doherty is back with his mini-keyboard, flopping hair, and uninhibited attitude, but this time in one of the most prestigious venues that the Edinburgh Fringe Festival has to offer. This is the Big Time, as his title states, with the same tone of boisterous cockiness and baffled silliness that surrounds his comedy.
A pleasure to spend an hour with.
The hour includes several self-described ‘stupid little songs’ which nonetheless charm the audience, like the ‘celebrities doing mundane things that rhyme with their own names’ number. His stand-up sets pootle around topics such as cynicism with the internet, how he wants to be the most famous David, and the difficulties of trying to buy a pizza wheel (or ‘uni-scissor’) when you don’t know its name. He is refreshingly gung-ho on stage, striding around and kicking chairs, or rubbing his microphone down his trousers.
Is there a common thread? Though his songs and sets are eclectic, the show keeps returning, obsessively, to his occupation. His feelings about being a comedian vary wildly: at times he playfully raises himself to the level of an idolised celebrity, whilst at others he mocks the very fact that he is here being listened to. Trying to be seen as ‘an ordinary bloke’, for example, he describes how he is baffled by being called a media ‘influencer’, and claims that the vast majority of the followers on his twitter ended up there by accident because he once had a conversation with Ed Sheeran. Seeing his own face on the hotel room screens, he asks ‘do they provide this service for everyone?’ Yet at other times he revels in being the ‘international comedian’, brashly stating how pleased he is that he has sold out the venue and will be making a lot of money. It’s all done with geniality, but O’Doherty doesn’t seem to have decided whether his persona’s relationship with the audience is one of superiority, inferiority, or equality.
He uses this mischievousness to his advantage. In one pleasing reversal, he starts to review the audience members in the front row. After all, he knows that soon we will leave and ‘talk about him behind his back’, so he wants to do the same while he can. (The front-row were also given four stars, although he never told us what number his system was out of.) Leaving the theatre, there was no feeling that O’Doherty had changed the world, fixed anything, or even provided much in the way of that ‘hope’ which adorns the back of the stage. But, whatever your knowledge of O’Doherty, you’ll find that this ‘Big Time comedian’ slash ‘vaguely familiar man’ is a pleasure to spend an hour with.