April 28, 2015, musical comedian David O’Doherty played le Poisson Rogue, which is a fairly new operation built on the grounds of the Village Gate where O’Doherty’s favorite jazz record was recorded. Having not been there, I was expecting something cramped and a little seedy, but it’s actually very nice with friendly staff–a bit like Joe’s Pub with fewer obstructive views. O’Doherty’s taping of his initials on the curtain melted under the hot Poisson lights, so he performed in front of some miscellaneous tape-shapes, claiming that though this is the biggest New York gig he’s ever done, next year he’ll be too big for this “little” 300-seat venue.
If you’re not familiar with O’Doherty’s brand of comedy: If you like American comedian Dave Hill, you’ll like O’Doherty. They are not similar in demeanor at all, but both come off as effortlessly funny, don’t have a lot of actual gags, and sometimes there is music. Yes, that’s right: musical comedy. I can count the musical comedians that I like on one hand. (I can’t count the musical comedians I don’t like at all because I never bother remembering their names.) But luckily, O’Doherty is one of them, mostly because he doesn’t try to sound good at singing or playing keys but instead focuses on the quality of the jokes. The show was 45% music, 45% standup, 5% sitdown, and 5% lie down. Yes, there was a whole routine about pottery class done from the floor.
O’Doherty’s show revolves around the search for happiness. Is it in a pizza wheel? A new coat? A girlfriend? An ancient poet on the far side of the island? You won’t get such emotional clarity as you would with Josie Long’s Clara Josephine, but he does draw you to the conclusion that being “eh, not that bad” is better than seeking an unreachable state of perfect happiness.
O’Doherty’s show was brilliantly put together, with riffs on getting his American VISA (a person of extraordinary ability) and periodic updates on the state of his sweaty pants. The highlight for me was his story about accidentally walking in on a naked man in a hotel room, who happened to be watching O’Doherty on TV at the time. Here’s a bit from the song Life, which he’d performed on Conan earlier in the month: