Review: Ticking boxes with affable sincerity

Gerard Dougherty. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Gerard Dougherty. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Engineer by day, comedian by night, Dunedin’s own Gerard Dougherty is anything but mechanical on stage.

Instead, he is disarming and relaxed, and the night’s entertainment — part of the Dunedin Fringe Festival — feels like a charming chat over a pint.

Of course, after slightly more pints, those pub discourses can start to get a little random. Dougherty leans into that feeling, and sometimes his anecdotes veer off into the bushes to take a slash before delivering a satisfying burp of laughter.

A bit of audience banter on aliens and their love of anal probes had me feeling just a touch hot under the collar as I wondered if this danced dangerously close to a possibly homo-negative vibe. But he was much more confident finding his feet with the topic of his routine — jokes about birds.

His exploration of the recent flurry of excitement about which bird would be named Bird of the Century had the audience sympathetic for which bird ended up at the bottom of that list.

Descriptions of avian antics of a variety of bird species were very entertaining, and I wanted to hear a little more. Sometimes comedy that flaps into infotainment territory can be very satisfying.

I think Dougherty could find comedy gold if he shared a little more about his love for avian folk. The audience interaction, always a dicey move for a stand-up comedian, delivered some surprising results, and Dougherty worked well finding ways to turn unexpected responses into a satisfying ball of birdseed to bat back at the crowd.

I was also keen to hear more about his journey into comedy. More exploration of the two worlds he inhabits — from engineer to entertainer — would be an interesting vein of comedy gold to tap.

Stand-up comedy exerts its power most effectively when it straddles the extraordinary and the ordinary. Dougherty swoops confidently between these with an affable sincerity.

Dougherty will perform two more shows, tonight and tomorrow.

 - By Simon Henderson


Gerard Dougherty: Jokes About Birds
Moons Restaurant and Bar, Dunedin
Thursday, March 14