An average bloke in a novelty t-shirt, Michael J. Dolan is a distinctly run-of-the-mill comedian at the onset of this afternoon's gig. But after riffing amiably on his poor state of dress and declining standard of appearance, something interesting starts to happen. An enormous, presumably unaffected sense of self-loathing surfaces and what began as a fairly standard ice breaker acquires a newly venomous dimension.
Dolan exaggerates his emotional life for comic effect, but he's clearly his own worst critic. As such, a discerning sensibility comes to dominate today's performance. “This is a mistake,” he's heard muttering throughout the brutal, self-flagellating display, offering disapproving commentary on his material even as he delivers it.
It should be emphasised that while Dolan is hugely self-aware, he's no narcissist. His ire is most often directed at deserving targets, a specific MP and morally bankrupt colleagues among them. Occasionally he strays into what could be considered the realm of the hack, addressing sex toys and social media, but does so from such a warped, personal perspective that his frustrations feel quite genuine. If another comedian were to utter the words, “There's a particular baby I fucking hate,” the audience would likely frown en masse. When they come from Dolan's mouth, we sit eager and attentive, more than willing to hear him out.