McSwiggin’s Pub, a one-man drama/comedy performance starring Second City alum and Hill staffer Sean O’Brien, comes complete with some funny moments, fake beer drinking and a little audience participation.
O’Brien opens the show as Joe, the pub’s Irish bartender. He pantomimes the bar scene as he pours a few lucky audience members fake drinks of their choice (today it was a margarita, Guinness, and a scotch on the rocks). So if you want some fake drinks, sit in the front row! Joe is a personable guy who we learn came to the U.S. from Ireland because of his love for (who else?) Michael Jackson. He is knowledgeable about current events and does not keep his opinions to himself. His customers want to talk about themselves, politics, the news, and, of course, women. But he seems used to that.
As the show progresses, O’Brian introduces the audience to three of the bar’s regulars: Howard, a gruff unemployed barfly who questions whether President Obama was born in the U.S., Roy, a 20s-something drunk Congressional staffer who wonders if he is making a difference in the world, and Bobby, a smooth talking Southern lobbyist who is a member of the “green” party (i.e. money). As the characters converse with Joe and each other, each gets his time in the sun as O’Brien spouts off their frequently hilarious views on current events topics like the BP oil spill (“Why didn’t Obama swim down there and stick his finger in the leak?” asks Howard sarcastically), LeBron James (“Everything wrong with this country can be traced back to Florida.”) and the World Cup finals (“What sport can be won by one country that is always stoned and another that is always napping?”). Of course, he’s likely to discuss different current news topics when you see him.
O’Brien is pretty talented with accents and succeeds in making these four men seem distinctly different
(he also does a pretty hilarious imitation of Congressman Barney Frank). His presentation of the characters’ opinions on politics, current topics, Obama, etc is funny but not in a John Stewart or Stephan Colbert kind of way. O’Brien’s humor is a bit more subtle, which I was not expecting. I think I was envisioning some slap stick, in your face jokes about life in DC, working on the Hill, and a typical evening in a DC bar. His comedy is a bit darker and, in fact, during some of the characters’ monologues I would say O’Brien steps squarely into the world of drama (i.e. Bobby discussing what it is like to look at his young daughter and wonder what kind of world we live in.) But as quickly as O’Brien jumps into a dramatic moment, he dives right back into a comedic one like Roy ordering up another drink, his “usual”: a sugar-free redbull and vodka that he slurps with a straw.
McSwiggin’s Pub is a show that DC folks will understand and probably enjoy. It is not necessarily filled with fall-out-of-your-seat jokes but O’Brien delivers a more thoughtful take on political humor. I was hoping to laugh a little more but his characters were interesting and they had a unique story to tell.
Written and performed by Sean O’Brien
Reviewed by Sabrina C. Daly
Runnning time: 60 minutes
Read all the reviews and check out the full Capital Fringe schedule here.
Did you see the show? What did you think?