Caroline Mabey’s Hair of the Dog starts pleasantly, with an ice-breaker about the DIY nature of her operation, a mumble about the oddness of coming to wear glasses late in life and then, with a few stragglers pouring in to escape an impossibly heavy spot of rain, she likens the process of filling up seats to a game of Tetris. Then it all unravels painfully.
Hair of the Dog focuses on Mabey’s partner’s decision to give up his job as an accountant and have a go at following his dream: to become a professional dog groomer. With an instructor happy to take his money and offer little beyond some philosophical nuggets Eric Cantona would be proud of, it’s not looking good. Mabey’s show about ‘big unreachable dreams’ is a difficult watch today; there are plenty of laughs but almost exclusively the nervous kind, as she offers a running commentary on how her gags, mostly about drinking, aren’t landing. There are a couple of walkouts early on, which she comments on, before the first of several references to the specific cost of putting the show on. She recovers, conducting a brief quiz where we’re invited to guess whether a nickname is intended for her husband or dog. Then there are more walkouts and more open hostility towards the departing punters.
There is a decent routine about the politics of the swimming pool and her concluding argument on the whole business with the dogs, but Hair of the Dog isn’t a great show and today is a bad day for it.