The Forum Theatre – a scruffy yet unmistakably charming icon – is such a fitting venue for David O’Doherty and his new show, Big Time. A musical comedy and stand-up veteran, and a regularly at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, this much loved Irish funny-man is back on our shores this year with yet another warm and hilarious show.
O’Doherty manages to reclaim his well-earned title as a talented story teller for the way that he seamlessly takes audiences from one tale to next while comfortable meandering around the stage and often with the aid of a song and his loved mini keyboard. He manages to make you feel as if you were personally there for every ridiculous anecdote without boring you on the details – striking the perfect balance of talking at the audience in a rambling fashion while also being so down to earth and charming in an off-the-cuff manner. These anecdotes and musings are perfectly countered with occasional song breaks where he manages to keep the audience entertained with his tales despite his less than pitch perfect singing voice. Adding yet another down-to-earth and charming element to his performance style.
The jokes fly thick and fast with O’Doherty, his off-the-cuff style sees him effortlessly and constantly glide from one joke or anecdote to the next, with punch line after punch line even in the set-up. So understandably, while your sides might not be splitting at every line, your cheeks with certainly be aching from having a continuous smile on your face for sixty minutes. While Big Time doesn’t have to much of a clear theme, O’Doherty tends to touch on issues he finds wrong with the world. From the small and trivial to the big and bleak, from trick birthday candles to the darkest parts in Irish history, from leaf blowers being sold at Aldi for no good reason to the internet being a ‘funnel of shit’ aimed at your face. What’s most notable though is his ability to talk about these topics in a way that’s innocent but jaded at the same time, which in my humble opinion is the mark of an extremely talented comedian (or the kind of guy you’d want to have a pint and talk shit with).
No one is spared in this show; not the front row, politicians, publicists, Ed Sheeran, comedy reviewers and certainly not O’Doherty himself. Yet none of the content ever feels like an attack, and despite how cliché is sounds, it certainly feels as though O’Doherty is laughing with us, not at us (‘us’ being society on a whole of course), with the show striking an optimistic tenor. While O’Doherty naturally touches on so much of what is wrong and bleak with the world over and over he does so in a charming way, coupled with his infectious grin that beams all the way to the back row of the Forum Theatre, making you feel as though everything might just be okay. And even if it’s not, at least we had a seriously great laugh about it.