Review: Strictly Carl Donnelly!

A frustratingly safe set from a comic examining his own hypocrisies

comedy review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Strictly Carl Donnelly! Image: Avalon
Published 15 Aug 2018

Carl Donnelly is mellowing with age, he tells us. He's got married (again), he's become a vegan, he's even started birdwatching. He's still a laid-back cool cat though, so it's tough to say if this is the beginning of his descent into middle age or just a ploy for more varied material. Either way, it works. 

Strictly Carl Donnelly! (so-named, I assume, because of the giant ballroom chandeliers that hover over his stage) is entertaining fare, but not quite at the level we might come to expect from the now TV-famous comic. He spends a large portion of the show dissecting the gentrification of London in a manner which, if you'll pardon the pun, feels a little hackneyed. What's more interesting is when he turns the satirical mirror on himself, and reflects on his own gentrification. 

He's candid and funny on his own internal class hypocrisies, having come from a working-class background but now suckling at the teet of globalism — mostly in the form of soy milk. It's not just class struggles either; he's caught between middle age and the tempting pull of youth, between cynicism and optimism. There's plenty of engaging nuggets here but he doesn't mine them for nearly long enough, or work the seam of self-aware duality as he could.

His geezer-charm means that the crowd-work is still strong, but it's frustrating when he finds himself bogged down in well-worn material such as the pitfalls of stag-do's. The lines aren't always befitting of his comic talents, but those talents are still enough to carry the show.