Comedy Review: Caimh McDonnell

This review first appeared in The Skinny

caimh mcdonnell

Caimh McDonnell: Southbound and Down @ Cabaret Voltaire

 
3/5 stars
Review by Jacqueline Thompson.
Published 11 August 2014
 

Caimh McDonnell knows that laughing at other people’s misfortunes is a wicked pleasure (Boris Johnson stuck on a zip wire springs happily to mind), and he’s more than happy to serve up tales of his own woes for our delectation. From a botched mugging to a horrific case of constipation, McDonnell’s anecdotes about his doomed move to London prove there’s nothing like a bit of schadenfreude to get one’s comedy juices flowing. His warm and endearing stage presence, all ruffled white hair and cuddly frame, helps to establish an easy rapport with his audience, and his ability to riff off retorts is impressive.

On the downside, McDonnell relies a little too heavily on cultural stereotypes, with many a gag revolving round rude Londoners, shrill Scousers, sullen Brummies and bumpkin Bristolians (what is it with comedians doing patronising impressions of Bristolians? Russell Howard’s a repeat offender and he’s from Bristol). McDonnell writes for Mock the Week and it’s clear to see; his fast-paced, slightly shouty style can be witnessed on a number of blokey panel shows, and it’s perhaps not best suited to this particular kind of stand-up. A gentler, more conversational approach might better serve his self-effacing confessions.

Despite this, there’s an honesty and sweetness to McDonnell’s loveable-shambles persona that makes Southbound and Down a real (and free) Fringe treat. In the end, we’re not so much laughing at his moments of shame as laughing with him at life’s absurdities, and even though his move to London wasn’t so triumphant, his sojourn in Edinburgh surely will be.

Comedy Review: Eleanor Morton

eleanor morton

This review first appeared in The Skinny

Eleanor Morton: Lollipop @ The Stand

3/5 stars
Review by Jacqueline Thompson.
Published 11 August 2014

 

It takes a brave soul to stand in front of a group of strangers and confess to having chronic anxiety, hypochondria and OCD. Eleanor Morton’s format is simple: chat to the audience about one’s problems and throw in a song or two. This would be a nerve-wracking feat for most people, but for someone who confesses to taking medication and seeing a therapist for social angst, a show like this requires serious balls.

The strongest element of Lollipop is, by far, Morton’s songs, which she sings to the accompaniment of her ukulele and keyboard. One song about clubbing is witty, tightly written and genuinely funny. Another, about office boredom, is melodic, moving and showcases a rather lovely singing voice. There’s shades of Laura Marling in her vocals and a touch of Josie Long to her storytelling style.

Some might find it all a tad too twee. Jokes about talking animals aren’t to everyone’s taste – a fact which Morton readily acknowledges – and there isn’t a great deal of depth to her stories, despite their potential. There’s not a drop of cruelty in this brand of humour; kindness oozes from Morton’s pores, and whether this is a strength or weakness of her material depends on the individual perceiving it.

Still in her early twenties, Morton has created an impressive, soul-baring Fringe debut, and with more songs and just a bit more edge, she could achieve something special. Even if she remains this sweet, her intriguing blend of self-therapy and enjoyable nonsense deserves an audience.