The bucolic Iveagh Gardens were the backdrop for the four-day Vodafone Comedy Festival, a multi-stage event that brought together home-town comics such as David O’Doherty and international talent, of which cult contrarian Bill Burr was perhaps highest profile.
Burr has gained a global following with his observational humour and grumpy old man cantankerousness. Both were on display as he performed to a packed tent, reducing the audience to quivers with elaborate and surreal gags about Stalin and Hitler.
The event had a bittersweet opening as Adam Buxton brought his David Bowie-themed BUG show to Dublin. This was a heartfelt, if irreverent, tribute to the late singer, celebrating Bowie’s eccentricities along with his artistic accomplishments.
Offering an acerbic counterpoint, Philadelphia’s Annie Lederman tunned the room into silence with stream-of-consciousness quips about her sex life and sundry adventures since arriving in Ireland earlier in the week (highlights included being stalked at Glendalough and shearing the wing-mirror off her rental car after five minutes behind the wheel).
Her observational humour was both pithy and uproarious, such as when she skewered hipster baristas for their exhausting positivity, a jump off for a anecdote about the dark side of lactose intolerance and what happens when she consumes dairy products by accident (the results, she intimated, were not pretty).
She was joined on the bill by Jarlath Reagan, the Kildare stand-up now perhaps better known for his long-form interview podcast An Irishman Abroad, and by Sasheer Zamata, a Saturday Night Live cast member and purveyor of social commentary and incandescent wit.
From the opposite side of the comedy spectrum, Jason Byrne was a human bobble-head whose performance blended robust pratfalling and a drizzle of homegrown self-deprecation. He also did some hilarious dolphin impersonations. He was funny and humble and a little crazy — a wonderful way to end four days of humour, by turns thought-provoking and rib-cage rattling.