Despite the reverence with which his name is spoken in comedy circuits, Barry Crimmins is not announced. He simply walks onto the stage with his glasses perched on his head and his notes. Occasionally, he leans against the wall, giving the show a tone of having the good fortune to have struck up a conversation with the most interesting guy at the party who was quietly hiding in the kitchen. There is an inner ease emanating from Crimmins that has been hard fought for, as anyone who has watched the documentary Call Me Lucky would know, but loving humanity comes with a dose of hating those who abuse their fellow persons. Crimmins never raises his voice to a shout. Instead he speaks with a piercing clarity, crediting his audience with intelligence and awareness, pointing out the wrong in the world and a weariness with it, but nonetheless coming in peace.
Having witnessed and commented on the past 45 years of American politics and way of life, Crimmins certainly isn’t short of material, what with President Bawbag and bathroom laws, but even familiar jokes are well-placed and earn their inclusion. That he is seen as an influencer more than a comic in his own right gives him a cult status, but Atlas’s Knees ends with a message incredibly close to home for the country’s he’s performing in – protect your healthcare – with a harrowing comparison of what he and his wife-of-a-fortnight, love-of-a-lifetime, are put through in her cancer treatment.
There’s a feline elegance to Crimmins and his observations are revelatory in their simplicity. Like a song you suddenly remember the title to, you feel ridiculous for having missed the answer, as it’s suddenly obvious. His solution to Trump is to show love to each other more, which is a message truly devoid of cynicism. Crimmins isn’t the messiah, but he leaves everyone feeling hopeful and connected, which is, frankly, so much better.
Barry Crimmins’ Atlas’s Knees runs until 27th August at The Stand Comedy Club, 21:40..