Caimh McDonnell was always a bit of an enigma to me. He was a face and name I knew well of having worked at the Comedy Store in Manchester a few years ago, his portrait hanging on their wall of comical honour, but I had never seen him or knew anything about him. Alas stumbling in the Cabaret Voltaire on an early Saturday afternoon on a bit of a whim in the hope of seeing something good, I now finally had the opportunity to put a performance to a face.
Considering it’s his first date of his Fringe stretch, the room (1) is packed. It’s not long after Caimh opens his mouth that one can find the rapid joke firing Dubliner is very likeable but also very funny. Southbound and Down is sold as about the misfortune he had moving down to London from Manchester, but the premise really doesn’t come into play till much later in the set. The early moments of his set are an almost geography, but very funny, lesson of how the English perceive the English. But it’s written and delivered well enough that you can be outside the shores of Great Britain to understand the mockery.
There are some very good lines but there is a feeling he could do with allowing audience to breathe and even himself. There feels like a slight timing and pace issue with some of the material, which is solid, but just didn’t seem to be delivering the punch that it deserves or can. As it is being the first show it is a little rough in places but you can tell he will iron out and smoothen the creases further into his run. It is very plausible to suggest that this is too much energy at this time in the afternoon, which sounds like an odd criticism but from watching Caimh one can tell he is a very composed, competent and confident act who could waltz on the Comedy Store on a Saturday night and own the audience. Not that the audience will have many complaints here mind. If there is something particularly missing it is a sense of narrative or theme to really sew all the material together. Nevertheless this is a show that most people can definitely laugh with and is a great addition to the Free Fringe and I can now finally see why he is on the wall of honour at the Comedy Store.