Thursday, January 26, 2012

Maeve Higgins (Out to Lunch Festival)

Out to Lunch 2012 festival banner

Bloggers get to choose their topics. If I post a review about a gig or a book or a film, it’s generally because I chose to and think it’s a worthwhile investment of time and usually money. Thus the element of self-selection means that more often than not, the blogger is impressed.

Professional reviewers in newspapers don’t have that luxury, and get to survey a much wider range of content, liking some, hating others. Yet as a blogger, it seems unnecessary to be so self-editing that I keep stuum about the disappointing and only praise the positive. Of course, the danger is that the artist(s) involved will read a post … [Hi Maeve!]

Maeve Higgins on stage of Belfast's Black Box as part of Out to Lunch Festival 2012

It’s not that I hated lunchtime’s gig in the Black Box. And it’s not that Maeve Higgins isn’t funny. It’s just that I didn’t laugh.

She got off to a slow start when she came up on stage in the Black Box. The audience learnt a bit about her family. Her mother “collects children” (normally known as fostering) and is the puppet-master behind her shell-of-a-father who shuns An Post and instead conveys parcels between home in Cork and Maeve in Dublin via unsuspecting train passengers.

After fifteen minutes of shtick, Maeve turned to her table of prepared material and picked up what she described as an “essay”. With her head down in the page, she read out a page or so of humorously written material. If felt like the audio book version of a newspaper column (and one of the later pieces about “excessive dairy” was indeed from the Irish Independent).

Maeve specialises in misdirection. Some of her best lines included:

“I adopted a tiger from Sumatra: she’s settling in fine.”


“I’d like to get back to my original weight. 8½ pounds … size zero …”

Many of Maeve’s sentences never … They start to go somewhere and then … Some the audience even fill the gaps with laughter. It’s a style. But for this member of the audience, it wasn’t enthralling.

There’s a whole spiel about having not met Michael Fassbender which led into what Maeve described as her routine’s “lull”. It was difficult to believe that the performance was going to be able to lift off and soar to a conclusion. The end might of the routine may have been brilliant, but I had to slip out ten minutes before the end to get back to work for two o’clock. If you were there, maybe you’ll post a comment and let me know!

I shouldn’t be too harsh. Some folk in the audience were having a great time, and I overheard the gentleman sitting in front of me telling his companion “I think she’s really very good you know”.

Of the six Out to Lunch festival events I bought tickets for this year, this felt like the weakest out of a pretty strong bunch. Comedy’s difficult at lunchtime, and dear knows what a sea of people eating with plastic spoons from polystyrene bowls looks like when you’re up on stage! The essays were good, and I’ll look out for Maeve Higgins’ written columns appearing in Irish newspapers. And Maeve’s comedy series Fancy Vittles for RTE has a good reputation. But on stage, I’ll give her a miss from now on.

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