You’d imagine Bill Bailey dreams of such appreciative crowds. From the moment the Somerset-born comedian emerged onto the Opera House stage, it is clear that this is an audience eager to be tickled.
A full house of mostly 30-somethings who paid €30 for the tickets, we laugh at the funny bits, make a gallant effort for the not so funny stuff, and even forgive the dodgy Irish accents. And fair play to the audience member who points out to Bailey that the Irish Examiner he has in his hand is a national newspaper, but based outside of Dublin. “Such precise heckling!” quips the impressed comedian.
Bailey takes it all in his stride. He wears the unruffled demeanour of a man whose been doing this quite successfully for a long number of years. The mullet is a bit greyer and more kempt these days, but he’s still drawing big crowds in a career that isn’t hurt by his ubiquitous presence on TV panel shows.
He has already taken this Limboland tour to several Irish venues, as well as doing stints in Australia and New Zealand.
Bailey is also an easy man to like, always an important asset for somebody in his job. The other essential bit of kit for a comedian is a collection of funny stories and/or jokes. He has a mixed bag here. Some of his material veers dangerously close to being filed under ‘Mildly Amusing Travel Tales’, but he does hit the Bailey bullseye with other bits.
What a barman says to Lionel Richie (“Why the long face?”). Inventing animals that don’t exist (“Agnostic Manta”). What men are really doing when they’re staring meaningfully into space (“Gone into power-saving mode”).
Bailey also has the musical talent to deflect the groans that’d greet another stand-up when they go for the musical inter-lude. Or, in this case, mandola, keyboards, ethnic percussion-thingie and a guitar-like instrument with a soundbox fashioned from a Bible. We get a Krafwerkesque version of Miley Cyrus’s ‘Wrecking Ball’ (complete with hammer-licking action) and a death metal twist on Abba’s ‘Waterloo’.
He ends his set with ‘Whiskey in the Jar’ playing in the background, a sure-fire crowd pleaser. In truth, it wasn’t needed — this audience had long been won over by then.