More than a decade on, it’s fair to say comedy is David Nihill’s calling

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More than a decade on, it’s fair to say comedy is David Nihill’s calling

David Nihill
Words by Staff Writer

David Nihill is a dyslexic Irishman who, mostly taking his cue from Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers: The Story Of Success (most likely the audiobook version), started doing standup to help him overcome his fear of public speaking.

David Nihill – Shelf Help

  • Comic’s Lounge
  • Friday 19 April

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During the structurally flexible Shelf Help, Nihill shares book recommendations alongside autobiographical tales from his time spent travelling and living abroad.

Early on, Nihill asks a random bearded audience member down front by the name of Brian to help him keep the show on track. Nihill’s mind is like a runaway train, you see. He’s a creative thinker – anyone else imagine stories from the point of view of a tiger shark? – and also clearly relishes in absurd coincidences.

Nihill explains why he perfected the “Queensland” Aussie accent while living here about 20 years ago: “just to help me stop getting arrested.” By asking audience members to identify their country of origin, Nihill also creates endless opportunities to show off his multilingualism throughout. And who would’ve thunk so many Brazilian Portuguese words are basically their English translations plus ‘e’!? Nihill lists a bunch of examples (eg. clube/club, sanduíche/sandwich), which Portuguese speakers in the house confirm.

Some photographic evidence of Nihill’s international antics – including a mugshot (he was arrested in the US for an “open container violation”), his shark dive with Ron and Valerie Taylor in Fiji, and that time he bungee jumped while strapped to a chair – graces the venue’s large screens to conclude this show.

Nihill points out that this evening’s performance just so happens to mark 40 years since “11 white ladies” went on strike in Ireland. By refusing to sell grapefruits imported from South Africa, they hoped “to help end apartheid”.

On top of Nihill’s recommended reading list (there’s a “book recs” tab on his website), we leave Shelf Help with some self-assigned homework and a thirst for knowledge.

Best bit: His enlightening tribute to “one of the greatest people that Ireland has ever gifted the world”: the late, great Sinéad O’Connor. Nihill delights in noting that although America made Sinéad the most cancelled person in history following that unscripted SNL stunt in the early-’90s, 2022’s Nothing Compares doco basically proves she was right about everything.

Follow David Nihill here.