I’ve felt like David O’Doherty has been stalking me ever since I arrived in Edinburgh. I nearly bumped into him the second I stepped off the tram on Princes’s Street, too preoccupied hefting suitcases to come over remotely star-struck.
Then, filing into the Assembly Theatre on George Square, as I ventured towards the steps up to the stage he jogged nonchalantly past me with an air of being late for something important without being especially bothered about it. Had he followed me into his own gig? Or was it a case of one haggis toastie too many too close to kick off?
When his show begins – all that nearly-late adrenaline channelled into energetic ramblings over his trademark keyboard as the latecomers trickle in – he doesn’t exactly do a lot to convince you he’s not the sort of bloke to pick a random punter and follow them around all weekend. Tales of misery over wealthy uncles buying him the wrong Star Wars models, and spending £18 trying to fish a particular stuffed bear out of an arcade machine (“You Only Live!”), are hallmarks of his TV persona that didn’t disappoint.
What did we learn about the man behind the Yamaha? We learned that he shat himself when Ireland voted in favour of gay marriage. We learned that he’s a big cycling fan who blames Lance Armstrong for all the world’s problems. We learned that he can’t quite work out how to pun Shirley EmBassey. In amongst all the surrealism, angst and whimsy, however, he takes the mask off just briefly for a bit of back-and-forth with a guy in the front row dressed as a dalek. When the audience are crazier than him, he actually comes across reassuringly grounded and normal.
A relief really, since the rest of the time he’s the type to follow you round a city until you’re physically in his show. Go see him. Or else.
When I tried to book tickets for Trevor Noah, they were sold out. When I trudged towards the box office the way was walled with Trevor Noah posters with huge “SOLD OUT – NO MORE TICKETS WILL BE RELEASED!!” banners slapped across them. Closer in these switched to “TREVOR NOAH – SOLD OUT – ABANDON ALL HOPE.” When I got to the box office in the Assembly Theatre to see if there was a waiting list for tickets, the guy said “Honestly, mate, we could have a thousand drop-outs for this one and we still couldn’t release any more tickets”.
I wasn’t sure what he meant by this so I persisted, and eventually convinced him to take my number down and call me if any came up. So it was with a certain smugness that I fielded a call fifteen minutes before the show started informing me that some tickets had come available if I was still interested? Yes I was.
Worth it? Definitely. Side-splittingly funny and, in parts, thought-provoking enough to justify the fact that a lot of the humour is borne out of stereotypes, funny accents, even the odd toilet gag. Good comedians push the line of social acceptability a few times throughout their set – Trevor Noah seems to live on that line and doesn’t ever deviate from it for any significant stretch of time.
He also manages to avoid even suggesting offence, impressive given that the topics covered include British binge drinking, ebola, shifting airline prejudices, more ebola, Charlie Hebdo, Oscar Pistorius, and an interesting take on Scottish racism. In fact his take on everything is interesting – he approaches his subject matter from a wide range of angles, with perspectives that don’t necessarily spring straight to mind, and gives his audience a great laugh and plenty to chew over mentally in the process.
Next time he’s playing near you, book well in advance.