Breakfast Epiphanies

Thu 6th – Fri 28th August 2015


Benjie Beer

at 10:57 on 13th Aug 2015



Cormac Friel makes absolutely no hesitation in delving straight into his past and showing you how dark comedy can very quickly become heavenly comedy. This bright, energetic and ostentatious Irishman has a remarkable knack for storytelling, and in this show about how he changed his life, the stand-up comedian uses it to outstanding effect to engage his audience and leave them with thoroughly warmed hearts.

Within the first minute, however, you are made to wonder if this is going to be the case. Friel jumps onstage brimming with energy, bringing with him a great round of applause, and then begins with the sentence, “Hi, I’m Cormac Friel, I was bullied in school.” It is testament to his own self-confidence as a comic that he managed to make even this line quite so funny, but you wonder if you are going to be in for an evening of insecurity-outing dark comedy that remains more dark than comedy. Not so; Friel is such a sensitive, intelligent and, most importantly, endearing comic that thereafter a feeling of warm intimacy with his audience never deserts you.

His story does not dwell on past problems with a grim smile, but with a frankly hilarious gentleness. His powers as a storyteller give us a whistle-stop tour through his youth in Ireland, his grouchy drama teacher, his time at St Andrew’s university (he gleefully admits now that he doesn’t rely on donations in the Free Fringe), and his misguided attempts to become an Oscar-winning actor.

All the time he maintains a demeanour and delivery that leaves you utterly endeared to him. What is so refreshing about him is that he causes you to both laugh and think, but for once with a comedian these are not two opposable things. It rather feels as if you have bumped into him in a bar in which the atmosphere is jolly with drunkenness, and you’ve ended up spending the entire evening listening to him because you’ve enjoyed hearing him speak so much. And make no mistake: Cormac Friel is very, very funny. The room was more often than not shaking with laughter, and he deserved every last bit of it.

Although he is possibly not quite the developed storyteller comedian he will undoubtedly become, I urge you to go and see him now. What are light chuckles now will in one or two years time be full belly laughs, and although he is in a small venue, I expect fully to see him walking out on bigger and bigger stages before you have time to think twice.


Bethan Roberts

at 11:38 on 13th Aug 2015



Breakfast Epiphanies is the story of Cormac Friel’s quest to achieve fame and/or fortune, by whatever means necessary. Friel tells us it’s good we’re ‘on board with his misery already,’ in response to early laughs at his expense, and whilst the show details the manifold misfortunes that have plagued his quest for notoriety – a woeful audition for a part in Harry Potter, getting mistaken for a rent boy in Vegas – Friel has the enviable talent of spinning his more unfortunate escapades into comedy gold. We hear about every failure and success that features in Friel’s meteoric plateau to mediocrity (mostly failures). Whilst the show may resonate more will those who have experienced similar dreams of stardom and delusions of grandeur I’m sure those with more realistic goals will for the duration of the show find they are able to share in Friel’s enthusiasm for fame for fame’s sake.

What becomes apparent over the course of the show is that Friel’s ambition is far from unique. When he asks the audience if any of us have written an Oscar acceptance speech, just on the off-chance, someone on the front row owns up to having penned one such address, and they are able to compare notes. Thanking God or your mum is apparently a no-go, but making a political point and thanking your fellow nominees are essential for any self-respecting (and self-aggrandising) winner.

The excessive self-belief which characterises many of the episodes Friel relates doesn’t necessarily cast his personality in the most positive light, but his charm and wit have the audience absolutely on his side, even when he singles some of us out as the specific cause of his grievances. Breakfast Epiphanies is a really well put-together stand-up show, with lulls in the laughter occurring only very occasionally. There are asides and tangents but everything is brought back to the show’s running themes with a masterful apparent effortlessness on Friel’s part.

There’s a useful message at the end of the show (the titular ‘breakfast epiphany’) but you’ll have to go and discover this for yourselves. This information is withheld with the readers’ best interests at heart; it’s definitely worth seeing Friel perform both for the insight and the hilarity. Breakfast Epiphanies seems set to be a reliably hilarious experience for the duration of its run. I’d go and see it now while you can get tickets – I’ve heard the guy who’s in it is a dead cert for the Best Actor Academy Award sometime soon…


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