Comedy review: Michael J Dolan
Edinburgh Fringe Scotsman review: Michael J Dolan: Nothing Will Ever Be Alright Again, Ever at Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14), reviewed by Jay Richardson
The idea of a festival is a gathering for celebration, but Michael J Dolan has a misanthropic loathing of the Fringe, regarding it as full of pointless egoists who remind him too much of himself.
Rare is the comic who draws affirmation from such a sparse crowd. But Dolan’s disgust with life is either a brilliantly sustained deception over a begrudging, brutally punchy 45 minutes, or, as seems more likely, a consistent and genuine hatred of virtually everything, all the more impressive for the chords he strikes in you. Every aside is profoundly negative.
That might sound punishing but set against the rictus grin optimism of the festival, it’s mildly thrilling, especially when he makes such a beguiling case for murder.
His chief and recurring bugbear appears to be that human beings are living longer than we’re supposed to, extending the length of his inevitable decline.
Affecting not to care what the audience thinks of him, not giving a damn about being likeable, allows Michael J Dolan to explore the murky recesses of the psyche that usually remain untapped, not least the homicidal games of one-upmanship he’s engaged in with his wife.
An intelligent social commentator, Dolan makes reasonable cases for both the bourgeois decadence of western culture and his most depraved, challenging thoughts. Yet his professed indifference to his reception is belied by tight writing, a release of bottled-up gripes suddenly pouring forth.
Crucially, when Dolan talks about a barren sex life post-marriage, his inability to protect his wife or the anti-depressants he’s on, he’s not being cravenly self-deprecating or grasping for sympathy, he’s just relating where his material’s coming from, with the debilitating effects of lingering Catholicism and his parents’ honesty playing a major part.
There are some lovely descriptions, a personal favourite being one of his naked body. And the delivery remains light on its feet for subject matter so bleak.
Finishing abruptly, Michael Dolan kicks you back out into the festival with a curious cocktail of emotions.
One to keep an eye on, in every sense.
MORE INFO: Michael J Dolan is at Gilded Balloon
Originally published in The Scotsman