Comedy Soc held a gig on Thursday 27 in the GMB to a stuffed-in, enthusiastic crowd. Far flung from the Tuesday nights in the Pav with student comedians and the occasional run in with the staff, this week the society hosting David O’Doherty, one of the biggest and brightest name in Irish comedy. The five time award-winning comedian, who has performed at Edinburgh Fringe Festival 16 times, carved his name out in the scene after leaving Trinity. O’Doherty spent his time on campus as an active member of Comedy Soc and, oddly, chair of Jazz Soc. In his own words, he “grew up doing shows in the Buttery hall to nine people” – now he is the first result when you type “David O’ ” into Google. How times have changed.
It was a hastily cobbled together affair, but it was a flash in the pan that burned brightly. Annie Keegan, chair of Comedy Soc, received a call right in the middle of the finale of The Great British Bake Off (an inopportune time to take a call if there is any). When she picked up, to her surprise, she heard O’Doherty down the other end of the line, with a simple enough request: “Any old box will do, anytime tomorrow, just gonna try out some new stuff before a big show.”
The committee scrambled to action, managing to secure the GMB debate chamber in a brief two-hour respite between Phil events, and frantically publicizing the event to all who would listen.
The chamber filled to the brim with excited students still worried it all may be some sort of elaborate hoax perpetrated by a final year student, driven to insanity by their workload.
The crowd hushed after some brief words from the nervous Keegan, reminding a buzzing swarm of students that while it was a free event, members of FLAC were walking around with donation buckets for the Peter McVerry Trust, and that ComedySoc would be peddling memberships at the end. Wink wink, nudge nudge.
O’Doherty strolled in as nonchalantly as could be, dressed in a red cap, bright blue jeans and a plain orange t-shirt and carrying a large bag of what we could only assume were jokes.
Taking to the stage with all the grace of a 43-year-old father on holidays with his children, he immediately launched into his set.
He warmed up brilliantly with a long, keyboard-accompanied soliloquy about his time in Trinity , afterwards recounting his time spent around the country doing children’s shows and his long-standing distaste for other Davids.
The set hopped from piece to piece, maneuvering its way through a number of different tones, from stories of Australian women crying, to sharp observations on slugs and lilt. A conversation with the crowd to an echoing rendition of songs about celebs and back again in 5 minutes flat; O’Doherty worked the GMB chamber like the plastic keys of the children’s keyboard he used to serenade the open room, with songs that ranged from somber to silly.
Towards the end the show gained a far looser feel, while the clock ticked closer to the 6pm deadline, then the 6:10 deadline, then toward 6:20 and so forth; it seemed even the members of the Phil perched up on the balcony couldn’t get enough of O’Doherty’s childish antics and clever key work.
The gig ended with O’Doherty flicking through his book of jokes, equally as desperate as the crowd to extend the experience as much as reason would allow, even adlibbing significant sections at the end about his time as a philosophy undergraduate.
The show ended with more of a whimper than a bang, but after the hard hour and the bit of free, premium comedy we had all received, I think members of the audience were happy to retire; all walked away satisfied from the impromptu, scrambled together show that had fallen neatly into our collective laps.