The stand Comedy Club (Venue 319)
Aug 4-28 (not 15)
With his latest show Doyle once again sees just how far he can push an audience, how far outside their comfort zone he can nudge them and what degree of sexual attention they can take. It is a masterclass in pushing buttons, perfectly executed by a stage persona who doesn’t seem to give a fuck.
There’s no cute gay campery here, nor gimmickery really. Just ideas about our identity and tribalism, those markers that signal to us of sameness and otherness.
He works his way through the room and asks the audience to own up to the most heinous of acts (bestiality, voting Leave, liking Theresa May), demanding they account for their views and actions. This is an underground revival for transparency and directness, cutting through the bullshit and unveiling the things that divide us.
He is fiercely political, impassioned and quick-witted. Hecklers beware! He seems fearless on stage and I have to wonder how many times he’s wondered if he’s taken something too far.
Doyle has never had the sunniest demeanour and as we watch him try to be positive and upbeat about the current state of the UK there’s a sense that we’re well and truly screwed. Perhaps his method of alienating the audience reflects the way that society merrily seeks targets to tear apart as austerity tightens its grip.
Regardless of his motives, he shows us he’s still a vital anarchic voice in political comedy and satire. He’s often at his best just snarking back at his audience. Even his point about the cringeworthy prize for best Fringe joke (a worry I share, as there’s absolutely no need to go around encouraging the likes of Tim Vine) and his determination to win this year feels like a commentary on the patronising face of the media and entertainment industry.
Still entertaining, bitter and funny after all these years.