There are often themes that float through Comedy Festivals, permeating the routines of comedian after comedian, as the subject has seemingly inexplicably become a part of the zeitgeist. A couple of years ago that subject was vegans. Everybody was piling on with jokes about how irritating and physically weak they are, and to be honest, we all loved it. So frankly, while it’s all written in the show’s title, it’s surprising to learn from the opening moments of Carl Donnelly’s Full of Beans, that he is a ‘vore’ of the strictly plant-based variety. Even more surprising that he’s not an annoying prick about it!
In fact, he’s fully aware of his hipsterness and he’s doing his best to fight it. Growing up in South London as the child of working class Irish immigrants, gentrification to the area and all the dietary specific farmer’s markets that it brings with it are things he instinctively rallies against. And that isn’t the only dichotomy Donnelly ponders in this show that’s more casual conversation than it is routine per se. He also contrasts his recent marriage on Brighton Beach to an Australian girl and settling into the beginning of middle age, with the fast-living, drug-taking habits of his youth. Particularly awkward – for him – with his parents-in-law in the audience on the night of review.
Donnelly is exceedingly relaxed at the mic though and can handle any awkwardness without a bead of sweat appearing. So while there aren’t really any hard-core ‘jokes’ in this show that will guarantee him an easy ride with the audience, he’s a consummate storyteller and he has some hilarious tales to tell. As he shares with us the embarrassments of his gaffed marriage proposals, it’s like catching up with a mate over a few beers. But it’s the story of trying to score cocaine in the back alleys of Tallinn, Estonia on a boozy British boys bucks tour that really trumps the night. Don’t be put off by the vegan hippy thing, he’s still got the strength to crack wise about his previous debauchery.