Tiny Piano Man
Project Arts Centre – Space Upstairs
If masterclasses exist in the art of casual comedy – that is, the kind that appears effortless, off-the-cuff and actually sometimes even half-forgotten – then David O’Doherty in the Project Arts Centre for Dublin Fringe Festival might be teaching one without entirely knowing.
Dressed like an “enormous eight-year-old,” sitting on a backless stool and with masking tape spelling out the letters “TPD” (Tiny Piano Man), one might be mistaken in thinking that O’Doherty’s gig would be a rather pedestrian endeavour. May this review – of a show that celebrated his 25th gigging anniversary – remind you that it’s not.
The people of Dublin have a history of enjoying O’Doherty in various forms, performing comedy under various guises for two-and-half decades, stealing his bike from under him.
Yet something about bringing a show dedicated to both his parents, Protestant Ann and Catholic Jim, as well as his late neighbour who died during the pandemic, seems to hit a sweet spot of integrity with Dubliners in a way that leaves even the stoniest of faces with tears in their eyes.
In a set that touches upon everyday realities and topical limitations (Extremely Divorced Dads and Russell Brand were both mentioned), O’Doherty brings a packed crowd to their knees more than once, even when talking futurism, climate change and the crowd-anti-pleaser that is old people dying.
To call him a comedy musician, or indeed a comic who plays music, feels reductive – like calling Bono “some Dublin lad who sings” – yet that is largely his shtick, and a genre that he seems to have entirely carved out all on his own.
Though, as he put it, the Space Upstairs in the Project Arts Centre seems like it stores cattle in the winter, O’Doherty fine-tuned the space and audience just as much as he did his €10 eBay keyboard.
Continues at the Project Arts Centre, as part of Dublin Fringe Festival, until Saturday, September 23rd