ARMED with a battered keyboard from 1986, Irish comedian David O’Doherty is touring the UK with a routine that attempts to conjure mirth from music (and he talks a bit too). The show, entitled Big Time, has been nominated for awards at the Adelaide Fringe and Melbourne International Comedy Festival. O’Doherty has toured with New Zealand comedy music duo Flight of the Conchords. He told EDWIN GILSON about his background in music and why he’s surprised at his career’s trajectory.

When I started writing this show I wanted it to be about the unspoken dogmatic belief that everyone in the world is having a great time apart from you.

But then, over summer, more pressing political crises have arisen. There’s a bit about going to buy a leotard with my niece and how the woman in the shop was so mean to us. It really annoyed me and I couldn’t get to sleep that night. But then Trump got elected, so it really put the leotard nonsense in perspective.

I love stupid jokes but I hate the spread of fascism.

The show is an attempt to balance those two things. I talk about quite mundane stuff from my life sometimes, but it’s usually stuff that alludes to other, more significant underlying things.

My main motivation is that I just really love comedy.

It’s my absolute obsession. I’m lying on a bed right now and there are bits of paper with ideas written on them around me, along with stuff written on my hand from the gig last night. I have a show in a few hours and I can’t wait for it.

I never imagined I’d get to play the Brighton Dome.

Seriously, it’s incredible. My career has had a very slow build. What do you call the spooky things that grow up from the bottom of caves? It’s been like one of those.

My dad is a jazz musician, and that’s what I wanted to do for a long time.

But then I realised that I am in no way talented enough to do that. I am friends with a pianist called Brad Mehldau and I’ve learned a lot from him. The main lesson being, leave the tricky piano stuff to Brad Mehldau.

I think the music brings a different energy to the show.

I can talk and improvise to the audience but then, when I sit down with the keyboard, it feels like a music show for a minute. A recital, perhaps. I can’t believe I just called my gig a recital.

Comedy songs are hard to structure.

It’s a tricky one. You can’t have a normal verse and chorus structure – or you can, but long choruses get repetitive and you can’t let it breath like a proper song. It’s a rush to get to the jokes. Get to the jokes, that would be my advice.

Me and Flight of the Conchords go way back.

I played a bit of piano in their 2002 show in Edinburgh, and we’re all into the same stuff. We are obsessed with non-comedy songs that manage to be funnier than most comedy songs. A song like To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before by Willy Nelson basically invented the humble brag.

I really like the Irish band Villagers.

I’m also a big Steely Dan fan. My favourite record of 2016 was Blues and Ballads by Brad Mehldau.

David O’Doherty, Brighton Dome, Church Street, tonight, 8pm, £19, call 01273 709709 or visit for tickets and more information