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Nathan Cassidy: Free Pound
Published on Thursday, 23 August 2012
3

3 stars

Laughing Horse @ Finnegan's Wake (venue website)
Comedy
1-3, 15 Aug, 6:15pm-7:15pm; 4, 11, 18, 25 Aug, 8:30pm-9:30pm; 5-10, 12-14, 16-17, 19-24 Aug, 6:15pm-7:15pm, 8:30pm-9:30pm
Reviewed by Mathilda Gregory

 Free and unticketed. No pre-booking required.
 Recommended for age 18+ only. Venue may not permit under-18's - check with venue before booking.

Nathan Cassidy has an interesting concept for his show here. He pays his audience a pound to attend. There’s no trick. You get to keep it. It’s a Free Pound.  Some audience members, Cassidy explains, even leave after they get their pound. But most don’t, and the premise of the show is that he thinks everyone should be more generous; he hands out his money and then appeals to his audience to reciprocate. It’s a nice idea – I really wish he had executed it more coherently.

Charming Cassidy makes a lot of jokes around charity appeals. Good jokes, too, as he calls them out for the mawkish, feasts of pointless show-offery that they often are (dancing newsreaders, we are looking at you – and we’d rather not be). Cassidy appeals to us to give him money, using the trappings of such appeals, occasionally making reference to his favourite decade – the 1980s.

But the appeal falls on deaf ears. It doesn’t help that we are not allowed to give him back the pound he gave us, which seems an odd restriction on our generous urges. (As is so often the way when people gift you money – they make out it’s given freely, but they want a say in how you spend it!) Cassidy then moves on to a new strategy, saying he will get us to be generous to him by making us pay him to stop doing something. Stop doing what? Stop taking off his clothes.

But the thing is – trying not to sound too skeevy – Cassidy is an attractive man, and I’m not sure exactly why he thinks a good-looking man taking his clothes off is such a repellent sight that everyone will pay him to stop. Oh, Nathan Cassidy, I am sorry to bring you this news – don’t faint – but the truth is, about half your audience probably found the prospect quite enjoyable, and the other half weren’t bothered about it one way or the other. Did you really think the crowd was made up entirely of straight men, terrified of turning gay when they saw you in your pants?

As this isn’t the case, the crowd whoop him on – which seems to confuse him. Finally, a couple of generous souls go along with the concept and do pay him to stop stripping. But it felt as if they stepped in out of embarrassment for him, noticing Cassidy seemed to have no way out of this impasse.

That bafflement aside, this is a nice show. Not as high concept as it could be and a little light on gags, but Cassidy is at times thoughtful and he has some great jokes, with an easy, confident manner. (And the fact he strips to his underwear is a plus point too, whether he likes it or not.) Cassidy seems also to have a real commitment to making intelligent comedy shows about fun ideas; he just needs to pull it all together in a consistent, coherent way.

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