Andrew O'Neill (4 stars)

This article is from 2006.

Andrew O’Neill’s humour is surreal to the point of being ridiculously silly, which is why grounding it in such a subject is a stroke of genius. He calmly explains why and how he believes that a 13-year-old Winston Churchill was Victorian serial killer Jack the Ripper. It’s the mark of a good performer that the audience listened intently to his preposterous theories, without becoming confused or bored.

O’Neill’s trump card is that he knows so damn much about the subject. The more surreal moments of the show, such as his caricature personifications of various figures involved with ‘Ripperology,’ are immediately followed up by genuinely interesting facts. We are never allowed to forget that this is an intelligent young man, with an overly active imagination and a penchant for wearing stupid hats.

The set could be tightened with lines that are lost and lines that really should be. However, the overall performance was impressive, with an unnerving level of eye contact and an assured amount of poise. Andrew O’Neill is standing at a confident place in his career as he has found a great niche. This is clever comedy for those who like their laughs original, off kilter and cliché free.

Underbelly, 0870 745 3083, until 27 Aug (not 14), 11.10pm, £7.50-£8.50 (£6.50-£7.50).

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