It may have been the nine strong audience, it may have been the tiny metre x metre stage which he, still, barely occupied, but this stand-up routine lacked all lustre.
I did not laugh once. Not because it was offensive or humour for a different kind of person, it just fell flat for me. It is an odd move to defecate – to be proper – all over the profession with which you are trying to make a living. It may make him unique, though it may also serve to alienate him from the crowd.
Some of the most endearing comedians are introverts and this forms the basis of their original brand of comedy – as one myself, I appreciate this. Dolan is one of these introverts, too, but his unique take on his life is a diminutive one. His pity for conventional comedy, Twitter, and other things which regularly functioning humans revel in is too scornful to be humourous.
Understanding his anxieties, his concerns are valid. He regales us with the inner demons and turmoil with which he battles and how these have crippled him in certain ways and have clearly opened his eyes in others. He even offers a running criticism of his own material. This amount of self-loathing and deprecation makes not for dark commentary but for an uncomfortable audience.
Though his ire is mostly reserved for understandable people and things, the relentless nature it makes it feel like a sociopathic rant. It can often be an entertaining introduction for an audience, immediately launching into some Dickensian diatribe. Here I experienced what felt like a genuine expression of all manner of hatred full of contradictions. I sat there itching at his glottal voice as he lamented his own emotional state. His emotion was not the issue – it takes a great deal to address one's inner demons and is part of what makes comedians like himself and Tony Law so endearing. It lacks in its basic attempts to be funny and reviews a self-affirming vendetta against himself.
Does frustration warrant such an active display of genuine disapproval?
Catch Michael J. Dolan: Miserable Guts at The Stand Four at 16:50 from 18 August onwards - https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/michael-j-dolan-miserable-guts