It must be tough being O’Doherty at least some of the time. His 2017 offering at MICF Big Time had ambitions to make a comedy show out of the challenges of living with meaty modern problems, such as feeling super-informed about the world yet impotent. It had some big laughs and also posed ideas to linger in your brain. Many commentators, unfairly, focused on the whacky comedy aspect.
I wonder if that kind of rebuff has caused O’Doherty to retreat to a more mainstream place. This year’s show has less of a narrative, and felt like a compromise that lacked the laughs and memorable ideas of past offerings.
Like last year’s show, You Have To Laugh also had some consideration of modern problems and exasperation at how fast the world is changing. Fans will recognise some lines, and it sometimes felt as though O’Doherty was going over ground already covered by him, or even others.
However, O’Doherty still had some of his own spins as he played musical numbers on his “crappy keyboard from 1986”. His take on the (now-familiar) idea of giving advice to your younger self was more theatrical and amusing than most. Other good songs included one on how differently you’ll experience the world if you leave your phone at home, and another on scheduling a time for us to finally get our shit together.
Whilst You Have to Laugh wasn’t up to the high standard we expect from O’Doherty, it’s certainly not a bad show, and various sections of a big crowd had regular laughs along the journey.
David O’Doherty: You Have to Laugh
Forum Theatre (upstairs), 154 Flinders Street, Melbourne
Performance: Friday 13 April 2018 – 7.00pm
Season continues to 22 April 2018
Information and Bookings: www.comedyfestival.com.au
Image: David O’Doherty (supplied)
Review: Jason Whyte