Tiernan Douieb’s promotional literature features himself surrounded by zombies. It looks almost as if, although scared, he is readying himself to reason with the undead, to win them over with some sly observation and a wink.
He is vulnerable, set upon by unknown assailants. Any impression of vulnerability is, however, misplaced, as 28 Years Later – Douieb’s first solo show at the Edinburgh Fringe – is a competent, endearing piece of stand-up.
His subject matter is wide and varied, generally concerning his inability to adapt to adulthood proper, as well as funk music and intermittent zombie-related reflections. His principle theme is that of childhood and a nostalgia for its trappings.
Although surrounded by the accoutrements of maturity – the house, the long-term girlfriend, the pets – he is set upon by a persistent feeling of infancy. These may be well-worn topics for any mildly neurotic comedian, but Douieb approaches them with a certain wide-eyed fervour which is a pleasure to watch. His style is mild, with punch lines appearing quietly and subtly.
The weak points in the set generally occur where Douieb strays into more outrageous material. Some of his jokes about diabetes appear out of place in a set that deals mostly in cool observation. The line “fill him with Red Bull and watch the fucker dance!” is proceeded by a segment about his girlfriend’s long-term ambitions, and appears oddly crass. For the most part, however, Douieb is charming fledgling comedian, whose accessible observational humour has an original simplicity.