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David O'Doherty: David O'Doh-Party
Published on Saturday, 22 August 2009

Comedy with music can be a tricky act, but some performers out there seem to have hit the nail on the head - and David O'Doherty is one of the main proponents of this genre. His musical numbers are delightful little ditties, clever little pieces of comedy; but the musical ability seems to leave a little to be desired. But I say "seems", as O'Doherty is clearly a very talented pianist, as evidenced by the final piece of the night and some of his previous work. He combines great stand-up and comedy songs - but the bizarre musical choices just deprive this show of true excellence.

Still, the stand-up on display is very, very good, with topics ranging from death to modern technology, and everything stays pleasantly light. There are no truly edgy topics, just a lot of light-hearted bouncing from theme to theme. If there was anything particularly heavy or difficult, it was well surrounded by airy friendliness. In fact, "friendly" is probably the best word to describe O'Doherty; his onstage persona is particularly amiable and droll, and he keeps that up with lovely longer story-jokes that fit nicely in between the songs.

The songs are brilliant. There is no dodging around the fact. They are clever, insightful little ditties, where lovely lyrics and clever witticisms abound. Each song is unique, and each lyric incredibly well-thought-out. As O'Doherty himself says 'Look out, Minchin' (Tim Minchin being an Aussie stand-up who also plays comedy songs).

However, what Tim Minchin has in spades and isn't afraid to showcase is musical talent. It's clear in O'Doherty's work that is talented, so why he chooses to display it with such bizarre keyboard playing is beyond me. There is some humour in the terrible playing, and you could argue that the playing isn't actually that bad - just atonal and off - but some songs get very annoying after a while. A different tack with the music, and this'd be a five-star show.

There is so much about O'Doherty to like, and this show is really good fun. His benign friendliness is a breath of fresh air after all of the mad, angry young men on the circuit, and his irritants are so pleasantly normal. If there's any strangeness or surreality in his set, it's in the songs, and they are on the verge of being truly brilliant. Nonetheless, O'Doherty is a pleasantly different sort of stand-up, and you'd be a fool to miss out on his set this Festival.

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