FANS of O’Briain’s television work won’t be disappointed to see him in the flesh. The gabbling delivery, polished head and Irish accent we know and love from Mock the Week and umpteen other shows are even larger in real life.
A good half of the Craic Dealer show is audience participatory. There’s front-row victimisation (in a friendly way) and many, many audience suggestions. Essentially, O’Briain ends up riffing on random material. It’s perfectly funny, but unlikely to be remembered after about a week.
Except, perhaps, the observation that Edinburgh has become a museum for traffic disruption.
Many of O’Briain’s jokes earn titters but leave your sides very much intact. Witterings about high-definition television, motion-sensor alarms, and the naming of lap dancers could be delivered by any comedian, and there’s nothing that makes them special to O’Briain. The formula, if you want to try it, is to take an easily-relatable observation and extend its logic until it becomes absurd.
The other half of the show is much more meaty. Where the show is at its best, O’Briain shares with the audience what it’s like to be a professional comedian, dealing with corporate stand-up briefings, Croydon audiences and stealing ideas from Twitter.
A section slagging off astrology which begins with Sally Morgan the TV psychic and finishes with the mantra “Racism is better than astrology” is the highlight of the show. His passion on the subject adds an extra zing to the jokes, just as his insider knowledge of the world of corporate stand-up brings that material alive, too.
Despite this nagging sense that O’Briain’s fame and expertise as a performer are masking some out-of-the-box material, Craic Dealer makes for an enjoyable evening.
When O’Briain stops chatting to the front row and talks about something he believes in, there’s no doubt he is a master of the stand-up form.
The final night of the Edinburgh run will be recorded, to be released in November as a live DVD.
Run ends Saturday