Seann Walsh is not dead. And thank goodness. Who would have thought that Walsh’s trademark frenzy of delivery and observational comedy would extend itself to what has turned out to be a remarkable and touchingly personal show about metal health and addiction? And it’s funny too.
With a popular observational style that saw him flying high on the Live At The Apollos and Mock The Weeks, Walsh was climbing in his career when his stint on Strictly Come Dancing resulted in a battering across the tabloids and subsequently to his mental health. The story around that time is not this show – that was ‘Kiss’, which Walsh released on YouTube earlier this year. This is what happened next, and finally what happened before. A bigger picture entirely, of uncomfortable childhood truths, adult evolution and personal growth. And still plenty of observational rants harvested from the minutiae of life that Walsh just cannot ignore and sees him throw himself across the stage with all the energy of Crash Badicoot.
One such rant spins off from the joys of drinking to the advice of Walsh’s therapist that he stop the pastime entirely. He has casually dropped some heavy information about the extent of his mental troubles, twisting a story of desperation into into something darkly absurd. There are uncomfortable laughs, but such is the skill of his gag-writing the laughs are still present. As further revelations of a childhood involving parental heroin addiction take us into even more uncomfortable and unfamiliar territory Walsh employs a genius move, putting distance between himself and the story thus knocking the threatening empathy aside to make way for some great break-in-tension laughter.
There are some real hoots from his alternative normal childhood. You are invited to climb inside his brain to understand the perspective, but it’s not any effort and worthwhile for the marvels of pedestrian life with addiction.
This is no longer the kid who joked about Netflix – now he’s on about Amazon Prime, still with a mainstream writing appeal but these days with a bit more self-awareness and reflection thrown in. It suits him.
Seann Walsh – Is Dead. Happy Now?, 22.00 The Stand 1, 3-28 ( except 15th) August 2022