When a comic can make your jaw ache from laughing before they even take to the stage, you can pretty safely put large amounts of money on the fact that you're in for a good night. David O'Doherty sets the bar high right from the off, very conscious, I think, of the rather soulless and sterile room he has been placed in this year. He explains that when he'd been asked whether he'd like to perform in a basement, he had visions of The Beatles at the Cavern in '62, not conference chairs and a doctor's surgery-esque entrance.
Perhaps the feeling that he has to work that little bit harder to keep the audience onside has been a blessing in disguise, however, as this is a massively fun show that never falls from those initial off-stage heights. When I've seen O'Doherty before he's always been utterly laid-back, and the perfect fulfillment of his promise of "very low energy musical whimsy." But no more - just like Dylan and his own new toothbrush, O'Doherty has gone electric. He's still the charming, thoroughly likable performer he has always been, but this year he has turned things up to eleven, and it really works.
The territory that O'Doherty covers may not be especially innovative, but he moves from topic to topic, gag to gag, and witty observation to witty observation with such ease and joy that you simply don't care. This is a comedian hitting his stride, and I feel that an if.comedy nomination could easily be forthcoming - and would be thoroughly deserved.