Comedy: Do it, do it, Mr Nice Guy

Ardal O'Hanlon Her Majesty's, London

Ardal O'Hanlon opened his show with a long, surrealistic muse about how sheep must get much heavier in the rain. He concluded it by stating the obvious: "Anyone expecting hard-hitting political satire this evening might be disappointed."

O'Hanlon majors not on the ranting certainties of the foaming-at-the- mouth political satirist, but on the wide-eyed bewilderment of a man permanently at two with the world. At one point he said: "I feel I'm a dancer trapped in the body of a tree." Like his celebrated sitcom creation, the holy fool Father Dougal in Channel 4's Father Ted, O'Hanlon wears the expression of a dog surprised by its own farts.

Not that he pandered to fans who had come in the hope of a greatest-hits compilation from the most famous Dougal this side of The Magic Roundabout. He dismissed audience pleas for him to sing Father Ted's deathless Eurovision Song Contest Entry, "My Little Horse", with a peremptory, and very un- Dougal-like "feck off".

Rather, what O'Hanlon builds on stage is a construction of confused charm; it adds up to a likeable, un-macho admission that we're all defeated by most things most of the time. Audiences warm to this - so much so that he has become a rather unlikely sex symbol, the sort of vulnerable, little boy lost that women want to "protect". Seen through his eyes, the world is a baffling place that rarely lives up to expectations. "There's a saying where I come from," he revealed. "If you expect a kick in the balls and get a slap in the face, then that's a victory."

Even the setting of Her Majesty's Theatre on Sunday enhanced the sense of comic incongruity. The simplicity of one man and his mike talking about All Bran was framed by a grandiose proscenium arch bedecked with golden demi-gods writhing in pursuit of some heroic quest. "This is a bit big for my purposes," he admitted, gazing in awe at the far side of the expansive stage. "I won't be going over there at all. The people who booked me here were expecting Riverdance."

Appealingly unthreatening, he managed to seem polite even when talking about dogs' rectums. He was given to little asides a propos of nothing - "you're probably wondering by now how many insects you'd find if you lifted up Ayer's Rock" - and could self-deprecate for Ireland. His face, he recalled, was always red with embarrassment when he was growing up: "Homeless people used to warm their hands on my head."

Martin Clunes was spotted in the audience, but an Ardal O'Hanlon show was never going to be a case of Men Behaving Badly. More like Men Behaving Nicely.

Ardal O'Hanlon is at Her Majesty's Theatre, London, SW1 (0171 494 5050) on Sunday

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn