Patrick Monahan: That 80s Show

Patrick Monahan is the guy in the club that everyone becomes best friends with in one night. Nobody knows who here’s there with or why he’s wearing a dollar sign medallion, but he cuts some good shapes and buys everyone a round of jaegerbombs. Monahan devotes a good proportion of the show to warming up his audience, opening with The Sugarhill Gang and some audience freestyling. Clambering over the seats and hugging audience members, Monahan’s energy and enthusiasm quickly makes it feel like a sold-out show rather than the half-empty capacity that it is.

It’s a bit cheesy, but it works, and has everyone grinning by the end.

His set begins in over hashed territory: Boris, Trump, Pokemon Go. However, once he moves into the core of his material he really hits the mark. Instead of focusing on 80s pop-culture, Monahan talks about his personal experience of the 80s: moving with his parents from Iran to the UK, starting school without any English, his Irish/Iranian heritage, his dad’s experience of discrimination, his mother’s experience of migration. It’s a show totally struck by changing fears and prejudices.

Monahan dances gleefully around the line of tension that exists when the word terrorism is mentioned, brazenly joking about ISIS and the IRA. It’s a set that reminds us that amidst bouffant hair and disco, the war between Iran and Iraq was in full swing and ‘No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs’ signs were still rife in the UK. His material jumps around a bit (as does he) and his occasional bits on 80s pop-culture are less original, though they help to create a bluntly contrasting image of the 80s. Mixing his youth with UK politics, world politics and the notion of nationality gives a great depth to his set without ever being moralizing.

Monahan continues to break down audience-performer boundaries throughout his set, matchmaking and showing how conflicts can be resolved in an epic dance off. He shakes his audience of any hesitation or modesty, bringing as many nationalities as he can together through the medium of 80s disco. It’s a bit cheesy, but it works, and has everyone grinning by the end.

Reviews by Ellie Coote

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The Blurb

It's the 1980s and Patrick's Irish-Iranian family arrives in Teesside escaping from the Iran war. Patrick reminisces about being an immigrant to the UK in this unique stand-up show full of the joy that Festival goers have come to know of this real Festival favourite! Directed by Phil Nichol. 'A great comic!' ( **** 'A spellbinding narrative... delightful, impressive and very funny' **** (Scotsman). 'You grin from ear to ear at all the fun’ ***** ( Seen on ITV2's Safeword, Celebrity Squares (ITV1) and The One Show Edinburgh Showcase 2015 (BBC One).