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Andrew O'Neill – Edinburgh Festival review

Sunday, August 26 2012

A unique, under-rated comic, Andrew O'Neill is in the form of his life. If ever you thought stand-up was bland ...


Andrew O'Neill

It's a good sign when you find yourself chuckling about a show as you write up a review, and that's what I'm doing right now about Andrew O'Neill's show. O'Neill really has blossomed into a fantastic stand-up, and such is his charisma, wealth of ideas and hefty pay-offs that I prefer to watch him over an hour than just for 20 minutes in a club.

Tonight, wearing a pair of killer heels that could be classified as a weapon, and scarlet lipstick (he's a transvestite), he performs a jolly show that's largely about how he can't knuckle down to work because the internet feeds his borderline ADHD, mainly with Slayer videos. He also gives some insight into the world of transvestism, gender identity, some posh-bashing and a refreshingly not-dull piece on atheism. These are punctuated with Harry Hill-esque asides, some of which are utterly inconsequential – and all the more fun for it.

The line that O'Neill has always tottered along in those heels is that between the obscure and the mainstream. He peppers his comedy with extremely niche references and indulges in some bizarre set pieces, but the bulk of his routines are utterly accessible and, quite simply, very funny. A vegan metalhead transvestite is never going to be everyone's cup of tea but there genuinely is "something for everyone" in an Andrew O'Neill show. The only problem with his flitting between surreal asides and mainstream routines is that it makes for quite a bitty, disjointed hour – but that's a small price to pay for watching a man pretend someone in the audience is surrounded by bees.

His playful and lightly surreal style works best when applied to more weighty subjects such as religion and gender identity, but I also love his straight-talking, no-bullshit opinions as well. His "list of the best things" is extremely funny, and he manages to get big laughs out of the blunt conclusions that all TV is shit and films are too much about money. It's literally the way he tells them.

O'Neill is a unique, under-rated comic who's in the form of his life. If you thought stand-up was all bland, this bloke will show you otherwise.

4 stars

Andrew O'Neill Is Easily Distracted is on at 10.45pm at the Pleasance Courtyard


Review written by Paul Fleckney

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