I’ve a history of enjoying David O’Doherty’s astute humour in the Edinburgh Fringe, and if Tiny Piano Man had been less than stellar, I would have been disappointed.
I went into the Gordon Aikman Theatre with some concerns. A foolish concern. The promo picture for Tiny Piano Man has the Irish comedian and his trusty keyboard (larger than usual, I’d suggest) in the long grass. Last year there was a gag about celebrating his birthday in a bush. Weirdly, this made me wonder whether or not there would be all-new material for 2023.
Thankfully, it’s all new.
That said, it’s clear the impact of lockdown, and the biohazards of our new life weigh on David.
The same slightly scruffy, travel-worn, lovely best friend in waiting trudges onto the stage, and it’s reassuring. The keyboard is already there, propped up against the chair, waiting for him.
It’s a sold-out show. The audience is waiting too.
Introductions are made. There are (not really) people of note in the audience, but we all know David and expect quirky little songs. We’re expecting some home truths, artfully and inwardly shared.
I’m not sure if David O’Doherty would ever be described as deadpanning jokes, but previous shows have felt melancholy as if the comedian was wrestling with the black dog. This year there was more anger; the chair got kicked over a few times.
There’s anger but also thanks and acceptance. In a few small ways, this enjoyable show seems to be slicker than before, bigger, perhaps even bolder.
It’s still David, but he seems to be taking a bigger view.
What to expect
Tiny Piano Man is a comedy routine with music. There are no long songs, just little ditties or a verse or three, although, at times, you might suddenly notice O’Doherty still as a musical lilt to his voice even as he moves into the next insight.
Expect observational and reflectional humour.
We catch up with his parents again, learn more about David’s life and get to where he is now. The jokes that make fun of people make fun of David. He’s not a cruel comedian.
It’s an intimate show. I think O’Doherty is better known than he seems to acknowledge, I think he’s not as well known as he should be, and therefore I believe this is as close to a true behind-the-scenes sharing of a famous person as an Ed Fringe audience is likely to get.
The same but different. Tiny Piano Man is more defiant than in previous years, but David O’Doherty is still the approachable genius he has always been.
Go for educated wisdom, reflections on life and from-the-heart humour.