Michael J Dolan – Edinburgh Fringe review

A bit much for 4pm in the afternoon, but an impressive hour of relentless negativity nonetheless from Michael J Dolan

Michael J Dolan

You could hardly accuse Michael J Dolan of misleading the public. His show is called Nothing Will Ever Be Alright Again, Ever; and the first line of the blurb is “You deserve to die”.

So if you go in expecting Crazee Colin’s Chuckle Hour, you’re an idiot as much as anything else. What you should expect is a barrages of negativity; not in a melancholic, poetic way, but in a brutal, relentless way. I started off thinking that it might be a Smiths song in comedy form – bleak but with an arched eyebrow – it turns out to be more like Slayer.

That’s not to say it’s not funny, because it is, and it’s more accessible than you might think, largely due to Dolan’s unnervingly breezy delivery. It’s just that there’s no change of pace or tone for the whole hour.

Once you’ve got used to that fact, it’s a very enjoyable show. There are plenty of solid jokes to get your teeth into, such as his comparison of children to veal, and the connecting of treadmills to death (mind you, this one could probably connect anything to death). Perhaps the highlight for me was his recounting of his gran’s funeral – or his “near-death experience” as he puts it.

It also touches on some of today’s worldly problems too – our ageing population, how British society is poorly equipped to deal with death, and the advancement in medicine that means we the first 150-year-old person could be among us already (as a child, I might add).

The questions that go round my mind after a show like this revolve around whether Dolan was joking or not. Does he really believe that we should really all hate ourselves? Is this show a cry for help? If anything he doesn’t seem that angry or upset, if anything he seems very comfortable with what he’s saying. Is that even more reason for concern? And how does all this square with the fact that he’s settled, seemingly happily married? How is it only 5pm?

One of the first things Dolan says in this show is that he didn’t do a Fringe show last year, because he didn’t have anything to say – although that doesn’t stop other comedians from doing one. Well he’s knocked the writer’s block on the head. He has plenty to say, and while it may be bleak, he’s got himself a good comedy show out of it, and done no harm to his reputation as an intriguing voice in comedy.

3.5 stars
Review written by Paul Fleckney
• Michael J Dolan – Nothing Will Ever Be Alright Again, Ever is at 4pm at the Gilded Balloon

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