Comedian Danny O’Brien returns to the Fringe and attempts to answer some interesting questions – can a cheese fiend survive on a vegan diet? Can a gigging comic give up booze and still have craic? And is it possible to have a massage in Thailand without a happy ending? All these queries and more are answered in his latest hilarious hour show, Reformer.
O’Brien begins his set by welcoming the intrepid audience, who made it to the Cowgate in torrential rain on a night when most sensible people would have stayed indoors. As a regular MC at The Comedy Crunch in Dublin, O’Brien has a knack of knowing which audience members will provide the best value in their interactions and the crowd are well up for a laugh on this dreich night.
The comic tells us the journey that led to him writing this show started last Christmas, during that post-festive slump when you’re shovelling junk food in your face for the sake of it. He detoxed for a month – no booze, meat, dairy, sugar or Class A’s before a month at the Adelaide Fringe Festival – which saw a full-on retox after discovering Bundaberg Rum (the Aussie equivalent of Buckfast).
A knee injury causes the comedian to follow a path to self-improvement and he takes up Pilates, the preferred exercise of his octogenarian grandmother. His Pilates teacher initially mishears his name which leads O’Brien down an internet wormhole involving 90s rapper Snow (real name Darrin O’Brien) who lived a fairly colourful life. The sleep-deprived comedian also took up meditation, a decision that leads to an uproarious bit on relaxation apps that involves a genuine clip of a particular meditation that conjures up some disturbingly funny imagery.
Gig life features heavily in the stand-up’s work – the nature of his job means he spends most of his life travelling the globe telling jokes – and his rich storytelling paints a vivid picture. An anecdote about eating chicken nuggets while homesick (is it their resemblance to the shape of Ireland that appeals?) and the awful process in which the bite-sized morsels are produced is not only horrifying but also leaves the audience guiltily planning a trip to their local chicken shop.
The show zips along at pace and O’Brien’s innate comic timing, mimicry and narrative building keep the audience in stitches throughout. The show is regularly selling out on word-of-mouth recommendations alone so make sure you grab a chance to catch Reformer before the end of the run.