42, his age: David O'Doherty repeated it frequently throughout his show, in a combination of surprise, despair and wonder. In comparison to his audience, he is ancient, and he clearly feels it.

He has a combined understanding of life as lived and a sweet, endearing vulnerability around his intense existential angst and life issues. He was here five or six years ago when his show was based around his feelings about his then-age and how he felt he had peaked.

Now 42, he does not appear to have got any more of an existential grip, and that is of great benefit and pleasure to us, his audience.

British comedian David O'Doherty. Photo / Supplied
British comedian David O'Doherty. Photo / Supplied

His gig at this year's comedy festival was laughably fluent, heavy with funny moments delivered with rat-a-tat power - a stacking of guffaws in the build-up to grand payoffs.

There was such existential ferocity in some of his stories that I sometimes couldn't catch every word. No matter, the next one was almost guaranteed funny.

His transmogrification of the form of musical comedy through the devices of a low-cost, knee-borne keyboard, half-sung, half-spoken / shouted lyrics and semi-functional musical illiteracy fitted perfectly within the thematic scope of his show as a whole, which was centred on his vague bafflement at life and his inability to master any of it.

One song, about a night he spent out on the town without his phone, captured his full range: ennui, discontent with the modern world, flashes of great understanding and insight occasionally undercut by the vast disappointments at the heart of all great comedy.


As much as the song makes you laugh, it makes you consider life and what you're doing with it.

He sings at one stage to his 18-year-old self, filling him in on what's happened in the intervening years.

His young alter ego is not unhappy to find out he's become a comedian, although he wishes he'd been a different kind of comedian, like Steven Wright or Mitch Hedberg or Seinfeld. That's the problem with being young - you don't yet have the imagination to know the value of your own failings.

Who: David O'Doherty
What: You Have to Laugh
When & Where: Saturday, Q Theatre