First off, let’s make it clear: Andrew O’Neill isn’t trapped down a well. He keeps saying he is, he really is, and says it’s not a metaphor. Which it’s not, because he isn’t trapped down a well. Confused? Possibly that’s the intention. The approach is full-on, loud, with occasional snatches of guitar playing and shouty singing. What’s going on? Well, there’s a lot of stuff about his being a transvestite, which, if by transvestite you mean a man dressed to look like a woman, he’s not that either. He likes high heels and the odd bit of dressy stuff, but he makes absolutely no attempt to look like a woman. He’s no more a transvestite than, say, Marc Bolan. He does repeatedly say that he finds things funny that other people don’t (which you would think is something of a disadvantage in a comedian), like repeating ‘Come On, Tim!’ at odd moments, like some form of Tourette’s. In and among there are some bits that are recognisable as comedy; a routine about Nelson Mandela as a Blu-ray salesman, for instance, is a brilliant piece of oddball riffing. And there’s an enjoyable bit of fooling the audience into singing a Queen anthem. The overall impression is of an amiable man in love with himself and his own image; and if you like being on planet O’Neill (and clearly some of his audience do), with its constant references to obscure metal bands and Nineties sub- cultures then, in the words of Miss Jean Brodie, that is the sort of thing that you like.
John Christopher Wood