DUBLIN — The final two days of Dublin’s Comedy Carnival offer a chance to catch seven gigs and over 20 comedians. Myself, I also got the opportunity to speak to sometime Demetri Martin collaborator and support act David O’Doherty (if you ever get the chance to catch Martin reciting his gags while the Irishman lays down a melody on his child’s electronic keyboard, do so) about New York’s antifolk movement and how the likes of Jeffrey Lewis, the Moldy Peaches and his jazz pianist father have influenced the rhythms of his comedy.
And Bo Burnham, on the eve of his month-long run at the Edinburgh Fringe, convinced he’s going to emerge from the experience “a better comic … even if my spirit is left a little bit down”. Refuting the comedy orthodoxy that you need to put in decades on the road to be good, the idea that you have to become an “old philosopher” comic in the George Carlin or Bill Hicks mould, Burnham nevertheless does cite the cabaret aspects of musical comics like Brit Bill Bailey, Aussie Tim Minchin and crazed Dutchman Hans Teeuwen as inspirations.
The 19-year-old has some interesting, high concept ideas for Edinburgh that I’m not at liberty to reveal here, but suffice it to say there will be an audience interaction element and the show will be slightly different each day.
Following his shows at this festival last year, Burnham’s teenage female following was out in force for his afternoon gig with Reggie Watts, a feature that MC Maeve Higgins took great delight in. Notwithstanding a bit of mic trouble, Burnham absolutely delivered with a varied set of songs, sharp one liners and Shakespearean porn. Watts, too, though you scarcely needed to see this accomplished human beatbox. The Iveagh Gardens is a tiny, intimate setting for four comedy venues. No matter where you were, through the flimsy canvas of the tents, you could regularly hear Watts’ signature tune of “a fuckshitstack” booming out at sporadic moments over the weekend.
Watts had led the encore for the Bishop brothers, Des and Aiden’s, celebratory gig for their eleven and half years of The International club in Dublin. A tiny, microphone-free room of 60 seats that has nevertheless been graced by the likes of Eddie Izzard and Flight of the Conchords, it’s undoubtedly a better venue for comedy than the massive Iveagh Theatre. But the Bishops, dressed like priests, clearly enjoyed themselves on an ensemble bill, rapping with a reluctant Michael Mee while Watts laid down his self-vocalised beats, as young sketch trio Foil Arms and Hog threw ill-coordinated shapes in the background, O’Doherty body-popped the caterpillar onto the stage and Fred Cooke played a pair of melodicas with his nostrils.
A couple of special mentions for Anthony Jeselnik, whose mildly formulaic but deliciously dark one liners should continue to play well in this part of the world while it faces a grim economic future. And Glenn Wool, who probably delivered the most memorable set of any I saw, demanding violent reprisals for the world’s bankers. The Canadian is much missed on this side of the Atlantic.