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Caimh McDonnell – Edinburgh Festival review

Tuesday, August 21 2012

Judging by this show, there's no way Caimh McDonnell is as bad at small talk as he claims, says Paul Fleckney

Caimh McDonnell

I may have been in the room in the first place thanks to Caimh McDonnell's PR stunt that is raising money for charity, but nonetheless I couldn't have hoped for much more charming company for an hour. Thank God. Can you imagine if this hour had turned out to be a horror show and he had 30 reviews to read through to hammer the point home? The prospect makes you shudder.

Instead, you are faced with a smooth operating Irish stand-up with snow white hair, shaking hands with everyone in the room on entry, bulldozing through the fourth wall in the most non-threatening way possible. WIlfredo did the same thing in the same room (the Tron), but with him you were either about to get spat on or shagged.

That's not really McDonnell's style. He's a warm, conversational stand-up who – at least in this show, The Art of Conversation – speaks about subjects that aren't particularly original in the world of comedy, but with enough great lines to raise him above your standard comic.

The loose theme of the show is his inability to small talk, which I don't believe for a second, given his lucidity and affability, and from there he talks about life in Manchester – the booziness, the riots last year, being attacked, parenthood … All of which is solid if unspectacular, but he has some pearlers up his sleeve on Bill Gates, and why there are no riots in Edinburgh, and his Michael Jackson joke threatens to be predictable before taking a beautiful twist.

A couple of anecdotes about his grandfather feels like a slightly easy way to gets laughs but it's effective, and transports us into refreshing comedy territory – an international rugby match, and how to deal with a Sinn Fein candidate on your doorstep. McDonnell's grandfather deals admirably and amusingly with both situations, providing McDonnelly with some entertaining yarns with which to wrap up his show.

3.5 stars

Caimh McDonnell: The Art Of Conversation is on at 6.20pm at Just the Tonic Tron

Review written by Paul Fleckney


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