Paul McMullan: Alcopop
Non-preachy hour about the joys of sobriety
This article is from 2016.
The start of Paul McMullan's show is an unflinching description of a life he hadn't noticed was unravelling. It only became apparent when he discovered that he'd unwittingly adopted a fourth dog into his one-bedroom flat before ending up at a drink and drugs test at work, which he passed with flying colours.
Growing up in south-east London within a hard-drinking culture, McMullan had his first hangover aged eight. There are some genuinely original and funny insights here about the mind of an addict and our relationship with booze, particularly the paradox of the 'drinking diary'. He's a laid-back, cheeky presence, and when he seems set to slip into schmaltz while describing a setback to his recovery, there's a lovely bit of bathos that saves him.
Over the years, many stand-ups have done shows about their alcoholism and some of McMullan's material was very familiar (particularly the 'American response to people who stop drinking': can we call time on that?). What's unusual here is that rather than focusing on his drinking antics, he spends much of his hour talking about how good, yet hard, being sober can be without coming over as preachy or self-pitying.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 28 Aug, 9.15pm, £10–£12 (£8–£10).