Kevin McAleer

The Tyrone comedian's use of slides and film is way out of date

Last time I went to a comedy gig at the Out To Lunch Festival I had to sit in the front row. My e-reader wentdown Dublin comic Andrew Maxwell's pants. So this time I get there early to find a nice spot somewhere in the middle.

Except Kevin McAleer's festival-opening gig is sold out, and already packed with people. The only seats left are at the front. Luckily enough the surreal County Tyrone comedian isn't the sort to whip up support by picking on the audience. Unluckily, he's not very funny either.

Well, some people think he is. The white-haired, moon-faced comedian has only to step onto the stage to make some members of the audience whoop excitedly. Evidently, here is a comedian so funny that he doesn't have to do anything!

In fact, when McAleer does do something – turning on a projector – it sends his fans into such uncontrollable paroxysms of laughter that I begin to worry for their sanity. Perhaps they have seen the act before, or maybe they are the live gig's answer to canned laughter. Agents Dérision.

The act itself consists of McAleer standing on stage, with a pointer, and saying unrelated things about a slide-show of pictures running behind him. The comedian's skits are often described as 'surreal', but they rarely crest the rise of mild incongruity.

He flashes a picture of the Star Trek cast (original, not reboot) assembled behind a sitting Captain Kirk, and claims that they are, in fact, his family, and that they only ever had one chair. 'We had to take turns sitting in it.'

Other 'jokes' consist of McAleer recalling that his father got a vasectomy, while showing a picture of a man with an axe and a small boy carrying a pipe. Apparently the small boy is him with some spaghetti for his mother. McAleer doesn't make any jokes about his mother-in-law, but to be honest I wouldn't have been surprised if he had. That is about the level and cutting edge wit on display here.

He does deliver an interminable five minutes about how computer terminology repurposes words already in common parlance, such as ram, mouse and so on. And this is genuinely amusing, for a while. The thing is, it just keeps going on and on and on....

In fairness, these three minute skits, delivered in McAleer's deadpan County Tyrone accent, might otherwise be funny just for their sheer randomness. A full hour of them, however, sucks any humour out of the stories, pins it to the stage and jumps up and down on it until it dies. 

Near the end – although it is not, crushingly, the end – McAleer leaves the stage and plays a video that cuts together scenes from Star Trek with footage from the 1994 World Cup.

Realisation strikes. The problem is that McAleer is a comedian whose schtick has passed him by.

Want to look at cute pictures of baby animals with incongruous captions? That's what Lolcats and Cuteoverload is for. A video that splices disparate pop-culture elements together? YouTube. 

We all have Windows Movie Maker now. Either McAleer should update his gig or he should stop doing it, because it isn't funny anymore.