Carl Donnelly is, in his own words, the kind of person who looks like he wants to have sex with a koala. This is almost the first thing the audience learns about him, just after he apologises for being a vegan and promises not to bring it up too often (a blatant lie, as it emerges, but by no means a bad thing).
Donnelly aims to take the audience on a journey through his life – a very fitting theme for the venue. Bob’s BlundaBus, parked next to the Potterrow underpass, boasts a comfortable atmosphere which shifts the dynamic from a standup to what feels like a cozy chat between friends. Props to Donnelly for recognising this; the subject matter he covers would seem out of place in a bigger venue.
This is because the material he draws on for the majority of his show is based around a cocktail of taboos and subjects which do not immediately spring to mind when considering standup comedy; poverty, depression, and makeshift Ayahuasca ceremonies in the backyard of a house in Plumstead.
There are unfortunately moments in which the structure of this routine falls. The variety and heaviness of the subject material makes this inevitable, but it can all become somewhat overwhelming, especially considering the original intent of the show – to take the audience on a tour of Donnelly’s life. While the majority is coherent, there are individual sections of the show which don’t quite fit together, leading to a drop in pace. This is more of an issue in intimate venues, where even a few seconds of silence can drag out.
However, no one can deny that Donnelly has a talent for making the mundane into the marvellous, turning a bad trip on Amazonian tree bark with hallucinogenic properties into an epic saga which encompasses both the meaning of life and FIFA within ten minutes. He is an excellent storyteller as well – not many people could describe two grown men listening to pan pipes while retching incessantly with such incredible enthusiasm. While the routine may occasionally meander, the content itself is engaging and gives the audience a unique insight into Donnelly’s hectic, sometimes upsetting, but always bizarre life.