David O’Doherty admits that sometimes you just have to laugh

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David O’Doherty admits that sometimes you just have to laugh


“There’s a really dark bit in Slaughterhouse-Five, the Kurt Vonnegut novel, where the characters come up from underground and the whole city is bombed to smithereens and everyone’s dead and they all just start laughing,” explains Melbourne International Comedy Festival favourite David O’Doherty.

“The Germans with them just start laughing because it’s incomprehensible to the human mind, this level of desolation. And while I don’t think the world resembles the bombed city of Dresden, it is a strange time.”

And with that, the title of his latest show, YOU HAVE TO LAUGH, has context. This latest hour reflects a trend in O’Doherty’s comedy.

“I think my shows in recent years have been an odd mixture of quite personal stuff about things that are going on in my own life, with the backdrop of a very strange era that the world is going through at the moment,” he says.

The keyboard-savvy comic insists upon the all-caps show title, too. “A retired golf professional looking back on some light anecdotes about their life – that would be if it were lower case,” he says. “However, I put it in capitals. It’s a screaming imperative. It’s the only way to survive in the modern world.”

O’Doherty’s more thriving than simply surviving of late, with plenty keeping him busy. “I’m writing all the time and doing odd bits and pieces. I’ll have a month or two where I’m doing shows for kids and I’ve been doing a fair bit with Flight of the Conchords recently and then playing with a few bands in Ireland, doing odd things.”

Though it’s a world away from arena tours with Bret and Jemaine, O’Doherty is excited for the next chapter – his return to Melbourne. “I will have a shit keyboard in a sports bag that I bought on eBay for $10 and I can do anything I fucking want.”

O’Doherty is set to return to The Forum Theatre, a kind of home away from home for the Irish comic. It comes as no surprise that by now, its “shabby chic” has special place in his heart. O’Doherty reflects upon the feelings that tend to rush in moments from showtime.

“You’re in the sort of roof of the downstairs, looking down and you’re standing beside a Greek statue with a big wanger and it’s a glorious sort of showbiz moment, where you’re thinking of the stuff that’s been on –  those old shows –  and it’s quite inspiring really to stroll out on stage and do your own thing there.”

And then it dawns on O’Doherty that, little by little, he’s creating his own legacy.

“I mean, I’ve probably played that venue now for, I don’t know, eight or nine years? Maybe I’m part of the history of the Forum at this point. I love the idea that one day I’ll look up and one of those naked Spartans with a bow and arrow will have my face and a slightly overweight and hairy belly and I’ll go, ‘Finally, I’m commemorated in stone in The Forum.’”