“Work with kids, it’ll cheer you up.” Did it bollocks.
Winner of Best Newcomer at Vault Festival 2017, Joseph Cullen’s “You Having Olaf?” fuses character comedy and stand up in a way that’s painful to watch and upsetting to be around. One reviewer claimed “the overwhelming urge to shake him has to be constrained” (Daniel Perks).
“You Having Olaf?” shares an insight into the woebegone world and mind of a recovering children’s party entertainer; from his decision to take the heinous job in the first place, to his breakdown at a six year old’s birthday party that made him think “maybe this job isn’t for me…”
What leads someone to make such bad choices? Can you even fix something that is truly broken? Is there really any point in trying?
None of these questions, and fewer, will be answered.
One inconsequential blogger tossed about what one can only interpret as the highest of high praise:
“Cullen is living proof that an English Literature degree has its uses” (@bakchormeeboy).
“His spoken word poetry, at times a steady cadence and rhythm of popular rap, has hints of word mastery akin to Tim Minchin” (Daniel Perks).
He has never been visited by anyone with authority to give him a star-rating, which is probably a good thing, there’s plenty to cry about already.
Unapologetically self-defacing and bleak, “You Having Olaf?” features Zayny wordplay and slam poetry, live-action balloon-modelling, and debilitating flashbacks of discos past.
Likened to some better and more successful comedian men like Jack Dee and Stewart Lee, Joseph Cullen is himself a pathetic man with embarrassing facial hair choices. He is also an actor, writer, comedian, Star Wars enthusiast, and oftentimes catatonic excuse for a companion.
Stay for the poetry, leave for the love of God.