What do you get when you combine an adult intellect and vocabulary with a toddler's enthusiasm, energy, and whimsy, then throw in a keyboard? David Nicholas O'Doherty.
Since he began his comedy career in his hometown of Dublin in 1998, he has had a TV series, a radio series, has written 2 books, and has released a CD. He also won Irish Comedian of the Year in 2010, and the Best Show Award at the 2008 Edinburgh Fringe.
From the second he leaps onto the stage, often after a long-winded self-introduction which follows several hilarious and rapid tangents of its own, David O'Doherty has audiences belly-laughing. Every time. He does not follow the typical, comfortable comedic routine of chatting to audience members in the first few rows, or giving any sort of greeting; he just gets straight down to the business of making his unprepared audience snort their drinks out of their noses (I learned the hard way across a few Comedy Festivals not to take a sip directly before he comes onstage).
His style is extremely hard to describe. He is upbeat, high-energy, whimsical, and almost adorable (although that word seems so strange to be using in reference to a professional comedian). He delivers a rapid mixture of hilarious anecdotes, observations and puns, but he intersperses them with bright and funny songs on his tiny keyboard.
It is also very difficult to identify a major theme in his shows, although his ongoing personal battle with fear of his nemesis animal, the shark, seems to feature fairly pervasively. Rather, the shows jump from topic to topic with a manic energy that sweeps up his audience immediately, and doesn't put them back down until he is offstage and drink-sipping once again becomes safe.
That having been said, there are usually designated themes if you dig deep enough, and this year's was somewhat darker. O'Doherty, having learned a sad but valuable lesson from the mysterious "Charlie" (you will need to see the show to find out who that is), sheds light on the fragility of life and the importance of living it to the fullest… in the most hilarious way possible.
I couldn't help but marvel at the way O'Doherty did not break his rapid, hilarious, and upbeat stride, even covering dark subject matter. It is as though he had tried for dark humour but accidentally shone a floodlight on it. It was only later, as I was reflecting on the show on the drive home, that I realised what themes he had covered.
I have no idea how, but it seems that O'Doherty is incapable of bringing an audience down. Further reflection on this year's show brought to my attention for the first time to the fact that he actually also has quite a delightful cynical tinge to his humour, that I was never able to label as such for the same reason; his trade-mark upbeat and fast-paced delivery makes even his cynicism uplifting. I can't tell you how, or why that somehow makes sense, I can only tell you to go and see for yourself if you are curious. It even makes his occasional attempted onstage angry outburst adorably (again, feels so strange to be using that adjective, but it fits so well) hilarious.
O'Doherty caters to a broad audience. He isn't really crude, and his humour spans the entire spectrum of simple to complicated, leaving it up to the audience and their individual tastes what they take away from it.
Seize the David O'Doherty (Carpe DO'diem) is playing upstairs at the Forum, Tuesday to Sunday until 21 April. If you haven't seen him before, this is a great year to do it. If you have seen him before, expect all the amazing you are used to and more.