Andrew Doyle: Friendly Fire
- Jay Richardson
- 23 January 2019
This article is from 2019
A contrarian comic with strong gags allied to his persecuted attitude
A debut national tour is usually cause for celebration. But Andrew Doyle is feeling defensive. As an avowed, old-school leftie, comedy clubs and his Guardian-reading social circle might traditionally have been expected to be welcoming environments. But with British politics in such a state of flux, his principles – such as they are for a bitter, youth-hating, heavy drinker – are now seen as contrarian at best by his former friends. Meanwhile, as a Brexit-voting, free-speech advocate who writes for the spoof news reporter character Jonathan Pie, and who protested the £800 fining of YouTuber Count Dankula (the Coatbridge owner of a Sieg-Heiling pug), he's also been labelled a Nazi on social media.
Further stoking his siege mentality is the Derry comic's robust, Catholic streak of self-loathing and familial friction with his mother, who tends to favour his straight, atheist twin brother. Reflecting this era's current rush to judgement and taking of offence, Doyle rather bobs and weaves in the first half, gauging the mood of the crowd with a few waspish swipes at the likes of The Mash Report, taking the long route round to making himself likeable with a knowingly hurt, persecuted attitude.
Having set out his stall on the EU's neo-liberal agenda, he returns more focused in the second half, citing singer Jamelia's recent demonisation of the elderly in the Brexit fall-out. Initially it's used as an example of creeping intolerance but increasingly, and with growing incredulity, at the general quality of televised debate. Bound up with the supposed wariness of television commissioners towards his own views, he builds to a blistering setpiece rant, nailing some strong gags while making solid points. Doyle's woe-is-me scene-setting might lack the direct punch of his political commentary, but he undoubtedly brings a welcome intelligence, grit and bloody-mindedness to stand-up's difficulties both in grappling with Brexit and the left's identity crisis.
Andrew Doyle: Friendly Fire is on tour until Fri 1 Mar. Seen at The Stand, Glasgow.