Continually having to fend off some “banter” from the front row, Darren Connell’s Glasgow Comedy Festival appearance was too often focused on crowd control rather than material. This was a shame, as this brief set (clocking in at just over the half-hour mark) showed glimpses of a dark talent that feels like it’s going places.
Darren Connell: No Filter ***
For those not in the know (such as the lawyer who raised her hand to ask him a question about his TV CV), Connell has reached a decent level of national recognition as Bobby from mockumentary-style sitcom Scots Squad. But that programme gets a bit too much attention here, from the knuckleduster prop he tried to smuggle in from Bulgaria to his observations about the people who come to his live work believing that he is actually Bobby.
Some routines also relied too much on punchlines involving his subjects being intoxicated in one way or another, from his own meltdown with diet pills (on the night his religious dad took him to a Pro-Life meeting) to the boozed-up GP who mocks Connell’s lightweight alcoholism. His 18-month abstinence from drink has coincided with the recurrence of a weight problem which actually saved his life, according to his retelling of a failed suicide attempt.
The fact that he rushes through that trauma leaves you wondering if he has more to offer on his own mental health issues. Mining the bleaker side of life might be tough to perform and listen to, but it has often resulted in brilliant stand-up comedy. Connell might be edging closer to reaching that level of glory.