A history lesson with bizarre wordplay
This article is from 2008.
With his whimsical garb and gothic make-up, Andrew O’Neill resembles an Edwardian punk, a juxtaposition that extends to a strange little set rife with absurdity. Presented as a mock history lesson about British industry replete with the now-ubiquitous slideshow, it meanders along quite nicely, following a surreal take on the industrial revolution. It’s not the most obvious subject for great comedy but it’s to O’Neill’s credit that he manages to squeeze a good dollop of fun from his rather odd source.
But surreal comedy works best when the performer seems genuinely invested in their fantasy world and here O’Neill is lacking. Frequently tripping up over his own words, he often breaks free of his contrived story and this, coupled with some oddly timed long pauses, tends to lose him momentum with the audience. When he’s on a roll, however, his bizarre wordplay is fleetingly hilarious; a brief, well-executed dig at American intervention in World War II is a standout.
Underbelly, 0844 545 8252, until 24 Aug, 11.35pm, £8.50–£10.50 (£7.50–£9.50).