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David O’Doherty may be an old hand, but he's still got new tricks

★★★★

While David O’Doherty didn’t walk away with the Barry Award at the end of last year’s festival, his nomination nevertheless served as some well-deserved recognition. The fact is, David O’Doherty has been really good for a really long time. Pleasingly, O’Doherty has carried that form into this year’s show, too, returning to his longtime Melbourne base, The Forum Theatre.
 
Notably, O’Doherty’s material the time around suggests a less grumpy and disgruntled Irishman than in some years past. The change works. His brand of cynicism with a hint of whimsy has always been fun, but there’s more than a glimmer of positivity within Big Time, too, which is a large part of the show’s charm. Even O’Doherty’s songs seem a little lighter, citing in particular the real-life, 50s-doo-wop-tinged tale of Jessie.
 
On the whole, though, as much as the songs go down a treat, Big Time is stacked with stand-up, delivered at a cracking pace. It’s an interesting shift - after all, in the past, songs have afforded O’Doherty some focus, structure and economy in his delivery. O’Doherty has clearly sharpened his stand-up game, though. Throughout Big Time, O’Doherty muses upon his newfound role as a “social media influencer”, touches upon the idea of erroneous nostalgia and recalls an infamous airport carousel incident - a story that might just be the highlight of the entire show. Overall, there are a lot of talking points packed into the one hour.
 
Big Time’s main takeaway arrives late in the piece, the O’Doherty prescribing the perfect antidote to the doom-and-gloom of our time: “You just have to adjust your definition of good.” Ironically, O’Doherty leaves his audience no choice but to do exactly that, having set the bar for festival shows high once again. It’s business as usual for David O’Doherty, with Big Time providing big laughs.
 
By Nick Mason.