Comedy review: Carl Donnelly: Bad Man Tings

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At first not much seems to be going on. Donnelly is over his recent mental instability. He’s got through his divorce. He’s at a happy place in his life.

Star rating: ****

Venue: Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33)

Donnelly ambles on to the stage to mellow reggae music. He’s relaxed. The question is, can he make comedy out of his newly harmonious life.

Reader, he can. Donnelly’s surprise at being happy and calm becomes a running gag throughout the show.

Is he really doing gags about veganism? How long can he talk about his spiraliser? Will anyone in the audience want to listen now that he doesn’t have any mad drink- and drug-fuelled adventures to relate?

What seems to be a casual question is actually a major issue for many young comics. Can you be relaxed and happy but still be interesting? Can you make healthy decisions for yourself and still make people laugh?

Happily Donnelly can provoke laughter out of almost anything. He spends a tremendously long time discussing the etiquette of farting. There’s a routine about watching a spider lazing about in a web, waiting to catch a fly.

Donnelly laughs at himself, for talking about spiders and spiralisers. But he’s enjoying himself tremendously. The mundanity of his subject matter is weirdly liberating and the audience feels it too.

But just when you think all the new mellow Donnelly will talk about is farting and flies he segues brilliantly into politics. With the audience lulled into a state of relaxation he brings up freedom of speech, internet hate speech, nationalism and Brexit. He delivers a wholly unexpected, but inspired, defence of Kanye West.

He’s warm, reasonable, liberal – the antithesis of hate. And suddenly his relaxed approach to life seems much more meaningful and profound. Stop worrying, relax and accept yourself. Everything is going to be OK.

Until 28 August. Tomorrow 8:30pm.

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