‘I just wanted to get farts into the show,’ says Pat Cahill, after performing a particularly trumpy song. Childish? Sure. But the sheer joy and silliness in Cahill’s material is irresistibly funny.
The flatulence-loving comic has a theory that audiences are most desperate for entertainment during a war. So, to give his material a good chance of success, he’s turned his jokes into music hall-esque wartime entertainment (cue gags about his ‘helmet’), and we, the audience, are trapped inside his underground bunker.
Bar a few vague mentions that this new war’s enemy is the Tory government, Cahill doesn’t get caught up in politics. ‘Panjandrum’ is simply an hour of joyful nonsense: stories of being trapped on tube trains, intriguing ‘facts’ about the origins of colours, and a bunch of wartime songs with ridiculously funny lyrics.
Isolation is a recurring theme in his ‘turns’. Cahill enjoys solidarity, but realises he’s chosen a job that makes it impossible: he’s an introvert trying to deal with the big, scary world outside from within his Shepherd’s Bush bedsit. But the perturbed comic isn’t after sympathy, there’s always an optimistic side to his worries, and what better way to deal with his anxiety than by highlighting the absurdity in life? After all, as Cahill explains, if you don’t enjoy something as silly as a fart, your life’s lacking a little bit of joy.