Wednesday, September 06, 2006

REVIEW: Lewis Black / David O'Doherty (Olympia, Dublin)

Will this be the night? You can't help wondering. As the less than svelte shape of Lewis Black gains centrestage, you can't help wondering if this gig will be the one at which he finally becomes so apoplectic with rage, that he brings on that stroke that seems to have been threatening for years.

Black, as followers of his contributions to The Daily Show will know, is a ranter, a raver, a foamer-at-the-mouth. Sure he has a few gags, and some analysis. But for the most part he has come to rage: to summon up a biblical fury of righteous anger, to wave his demonic finger at the state of the universe and wobble his jowls in floppy incomprehension.

Earlier in his career, the American comic tells us, his comedy contained around 20% politics. With the arrival of the Bush regime, however, the proportion has switched. Now, debunking the US government's Christian-fascist agendas on evolution, stem cell research and the War on Islam takes up pretty much all of his stage time.

As the comedian himself admits, this has two powerful effects. Firstly, the material is more depressing than hilarious; and secondly, the stuff that is hilarious, he lifts verbatim from the newspapers. Black's peachiness remains entertaining, but that is due to the degree to which it contorts the idea of standup, rather than for the laughs it generates.

Local support act, David O'Doherty, whose shtick thus far has been a kind of nerdy absentmindedness, has clearly returned from his no-longer-the-Perrier award nomination Edinburgh trip, a little bit hyper. He is pushing harder for the laughs, even if he still gets about the same number as ever for his nice riffs about txt msgs and childhood, computers and girlfriends. But the laconic charm is getting squeezed out.

Easy there, boy! We've got plenty of motormouths already

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