The one joke David has written in the past few years: “Why don’t Vodafone phones get married in my house? Cause the reception would be shit”
“World, you can mess with me once and you would probably get away with it. Mess with me twice and I probably won’t remember. But mess with me numerous times across a concerted period in a similar way and think you’re going to get away with. Well you are wrong! Cause I’m going to lampoon you, through a comedy song”
Within three seconds of speaking to David O’Doherty, I can’t help but laugh at his nonchalance. He sounds groggy, calls me Richard, apologises for calling me Richard, blames his agent for calling me Richard and explains how he is still asleep in bed. After asking did he enjoy the delights of Ireland’s largest publicity stunt in Arthurs Day, he replies with a swift, “Arthur’s day! Fuck off,” and in reference to his play ‘Rory Sheridan’s Tales of The Antarctica’, he explains how he spent the last few days, “shouting in a room for a very long time”. After spending years trying to become the most famous David O’Doherty on Google and numerous appearances on television game shows such as Never Mind the Buzzcocks and QI; he should have little cause for worry now, with such award-winning antics thrusting him into the limelight, a new show coming soon to Vicar street and the publishing of his follow on from ‘100 Facts About Pandas’ called ‘100 Facts About Sharks’.
David O’Doherty is a man who takes his music seriously. He tells tales of how he wanted to become a piano player taking after his father and his struggles in dragging a large Fender Rhodes keyboard around with him, before his father lowered his expectations in life with a “you can’t polish a turd” speech. These struggles left him desiring something much smaller. O’Doherty is well-known for combining his comedic performance with tunes played on his miniature electronic keyboard, delivering both his sung and spoken jokes with an extremely dry sarcasm. This novelty is combined with songs containing bizarre references and topics such as an orange women and his sort-of duet with Shakira, which have made him stand out and has left many now recognisable comedians in his wake.
In university, he introduced jazz concerts and rock gigs in which he stated “grew longer and longer”, a whimsical way to introduce yourself to the world of comedy. He speaks of his indulgence of comedy shows in Dublin at the time, and how he became deeply engrossed in the fad. He recalls his first stand up gig, where he supported Tommy Tiernan and how Dublin is holding pen of comedic integrity, even if such a small city. Each August he carts his keyboards over on the flight from Dublin to the Edinburgh to perform his low-budget, high-value routines about the perils of text messaging, his beefs and the acquisition of very mild superpowers. When asked if he had acquired any new mild superpowers he claimed that he has “been staying In a lot of hotels recently, and having the gift of when there is a choice of lifts, being able to stand under the one that is going to open before the little light comes on.” These have been appreciated by ever increasing numbers since he swatted away Josie Long, Andy Zaltzman and Russell Howard to win the So You Think You’re Funny new comic crown in 1999.
In 2007, O’Doherty had ventured into other forms of media “basically it started as an idea of writing a show about recording an album in my apartment”. Broadcasted on RTE, he created a late-night, low-budget documentary TV series entitled The Modest Adventures of David O’Doherty, which struck a chord with Irish Audiences whilst leaving some people mystified by episodes that would feature him cycling from Dublin to Galway in one day to do a gig or concocting bizarre schemes to pay his rent and attempting to have a minor hit single, which he rose to 27 in the Irish charts. The song entitled ‘Orange’, a song about an ill-suited couple on a date (he worked in a photocopy shop and made his own badges, she was a militant vegetarian whose fake tan went horribly wrong) went straight into the top 30 of the charts, “actually most of the people that come up and ask me about the song, are very orange themselves, meaning that they just don’t get the message at all”.
Sell-out crowds in Melbourne or the Edinburgh fringe festival don’t faze David as he mumbles that the most exciting gigs are the ones in which he delivers brand new material, whether they be in large crowds or on top on a beer crate upstairs in Anseo. David’s career has taken him all over the world and back, and with adaptability being a possible problem for material he says that “people laugh at farts and people falling over, really you got to just figure out those universal funny things.“ Following the success of the film A Film With Me In It, in which David plays a brain damaged quadriplegic, he tells us of his struggles of “refraining to laugh” at Dylan Moran and his brother Mark Doherty’s improv over scripted lines. Last November David became the “most least famous person ever to present Nevermind the Buzzcocks”, a show that he previously enjoyed viewing at a younger age. “It was something that I’ve never done before, I don’t desire to be a television presenter and I’ve never done many panel shows, I’d only do shows that I like, shows that I watch”.
David O’ Dohertys journey has left him leave his mark on Irish. Thankfully the play Rory Sheridan’s Tales of The Antarctica is anything but a vanity project, and the genial Irishman has crafted a splendid tale of tundra-based derring-do. The play is set 1917 and Rory Sheridan is young man in love with an uptown girl, a relationship doomed for disaster unless he can impress his beloved’s father by staging a hazardous and ill thought out publicity stunt and thus saving their family business. This involves him trekking to the Arctic Circle with a party of imbeciles who have invariably been selected not for their navigation or sailing skills but to get them out of harm’s way, hopefully for good. “It’s a show about a man who, rather than being very humble, is just a man who should never have been there. A complete waste of time. Instead of a man who brings a sense of sensibility in an exciting era of brave explorers and sailors, to just someone who wants to impress a girl and just has a terrible time.”
Next up for O’Doherty is a book entitled ‘100 Facts About Sharks’, which is his attempt to be a little bit like David Attenborough or one of his favourite shows Blue Planet, although he admits to being both ignorant and terrified of most animals. Instead, he concocts many hilarious made up facts about sharks. This isn’t David’s first venture into publishing, as his prequel ‘100 Facts About Pandas’, gained international recognition after giving us a satirical insight into the world of panda life such as the weaving panda turns the fabric bullet-proof and that Shanghai police have been wearing these fur jackets for 20 years. He again collaborates with his sister Claudia O’Doherty and friend Mike Ahern in what promises to be a bestseller. For example, did you know that the shark hates Jazz music, and that the word shark actually looks quite like a shark? With such a simple yet genius idea, must have come some back story, but as nonchalant as ever, we get a look into how David’s cogs work. “Whatever people feel about pandas, and people have strong feelings towards pandas, sharks are the same. Cute but ferocious. I obviously watch a lot of Blue Planet and Claudia and I used to watch it without the sound on and make up new commentary and give the animals names. From there we began to write down these ridiculous facts, first concentrating on the panda, then the shark.” The book is set to be published in hardback by Square Peg on the 6th October 2011.
O’Doherty has been decorated with numerous awards for his many achievements in comedy. In 1999, he won Channel 4’s illustrious So You Think You’re Funny Comedy Competition at the Edinburgh Fringe festival and was also a finalist in the BBC New Comedy Awards in the same year. He has received the accolade of Hot Press Irish Comedian of the Year 2003 and in the year 2000, he was nominated for Perrier Best Newcomer Award for his show; David O’Doherty: The Boy Who Saved Comedy. 2006 saw a nomination for the if.comedy award for his show, ‘David O’Doherty is My Name’. He eventually won the if.comedy Award (formerly the Perrier Award) in 2008 for ‘Let’s Comedy’. He was also nominated for the Barry Award at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2006. Recently David has raked in the prestigious Edinburgh Comedy Award Winner in 2008 and was voted Irish Comedian of the Year in 2010.
With a brand new show called ‘David O’Doherty is looking up’; he is set to increase his ever growing fan-base and worldwide recognition. “It’s a show I wrote over the summer, a new stand up show which I wrote over the course of this year and I feel that they are getting better as I go along. I’ve tried to do something a bit different to what I’ve done before, I’ve tried to talk about the recession and our country”. With what sounded like a yawn and a slurp, David goes on to explain how it will still be mostly really stupid jokes, and songs played on a tiny keyboard, but also some things that he feels are quite important in life.
‘David O’ Doherty is looking up’ shall be in Vicar Street in Dublin on the 1st of October in which promises to be a fantastic night of laughter and mystery.
Interestingly, O’Doherty also enjoys artists who combine the ridiculous with the profound along with occasionally music, allying comedians like Flight of the Conchords (who he supported on their gig in Dublin’s Olympia theatre last year), Zach Galifianakis and his favourite comedian of recent Tim Key. He feels that artists’ trying to mimic comedians off certain shows such as Live at the Apollo is the wrong way to get started into comedy, “you just have to say things that you find funny, don’t watch the Apollo and go aspire to be exactly that, if there is a tiny thing that really, really makes you laugh, like chuckle to yourself, that’s how you go about it. There is enough generic comedians at the moment”
When it comes to performing his whimsical wit, be they strange towns or cities, awkward audiences or unusual venues such as his own small apartment or upstairs in Anseo on beer crates, David’s style and character has left him as one of the more celebrated comedians in Ireland in recent times. After all, a laugh is a laugh, and his own material takes so much from his own real life and the little things that make him laugh. Whether it be his subtle acquisition of very mild superpowers, his beefs with life and his absurd fascination with pandas and sharks, David O’Doherty has the guile and mannerism to rank himself amongst Irelands greats.
David O’Doherty performs at Vicar Street on the 1st of October. Tickets available at Ticketmaster.ie
“100 facts about sharks” will be released in hardback by Square Peg on the 6th October 2011