With flowing locks and tight short skirt, Andrew O’Neill quickly establishes the credentials for the title of his show: Alternative.
He challenges the most girly audience member he can see to a fight, gets a surprisingly solid 100 per cent “lack of yes” vote in his impromptu independence referendum and rejects the term transvestite in favour of “clothes weirdo”. As openings go, it’s promising.
While the (almost) factual rationale for why we’re not actually all that indebted to the USA for the fact that we’re not “all speaking German” was pretty fine, attempts to introduce a narrative arc for the show are less successful.
From such beginnings, some musical fun and nicely improvised revisions to Michael Jackson song titles called out by the audience, we go surprisingly downhill after the interval. One hitchhiking anecdote was fair enough in the context of the show. However, if you’re going to spend an hour talking about, say, the relative difficulty of the London to Manchester hitch, and change stories so often that even the sober are pushed to keep the thread, you’d be better buying the drinks, not charging people a tenner a head. In that respect, stand-up comedy verged too close to pub bore.
There’s a captive audience here, and geeky jokes take in heavy metal, Lord of the Rings and Doctor Who, among others. Those were actually among the better gags in the second half – a couple of “mainstream” jokes missed entirely on taste and quality.
Overall, not a bad show, but more discipline, structure and pacing are required. O’Neill seems nice enough to wish him well and, in places, good enough to believe that Alternative will improve further on in the tour.