Comedy review: Carl Donnelly
Edinburgh Fringe Scotsman review: Carl Donnelly: Now That’s What I Carl Donnelly! Volume V at Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33), reviewed by Jay Richardson
Despite his Edinburgh Comedy Award nomination, Carl Donnelly is having a wretched Fringe, after becoming estranged from his wife in the build up. Little squeaks of anguish about this state of affairs periodically emanate from him over the course of his no-frills, consistently enjoyable show, in which he applies his hippy tendencies to the most blokey of situations, arriving at a defence of the male psyche that’s passionate and heartfelt.
Even through his pain and unfortunate resemblance to Rolf Harris, there’s a chuckling good humour and no-bullshit quality to his storytelling that convinces you he rarely embellishes or contrives his anecdotes. So when he explains that he recently converted to veganism, not for conscience or health reasons, but because he is paranoid about what animals are plotting, you absorb and accept this bizarre thinking, assuming, incorrectly, that the subsequent stories will support the logic. Of course, it doesn’t matter, it’s just an excuse to relate diverting tales from his trips to zoos and countryside in the UK and Australia.
Losing out to the wildlife on these occasions, he reflects that he’s more of a monster than he’s previously acknowledged, an abasement technique that allows him to chippily question God’s existence from the perspective of his bumhole and demolish the nostalgic view of halcyon days when you could safely leave your door unlocked. Alighting next on support of gay marriage and the revelation of finding his “penis double” in pornography, the disparate subject matter is capably linked together with neat segues.
But what truly holds the show together is the underlying, bellicose attitude of a man unwilling to accept culturally entrenched lies anymore. In stark contrast to the prevailing winds of feminism that have blown so perceptibly through this festival, Donnelly launches a staunch defence of masculinity, often with stated disparagement of the female temperament.
Granted, he acknowledges that it is men’s pent-up sexual frustration that is responsible for so much aggression. But he has an enlightened cure for that, closing his yarn-spinning on an extended tale that suggests he is not afraid to put his wilder ideas into practice.
Originally published in The Scotsman