Entertainment

Review: Belfast comedians Ciaran Bartlett and William Thompson serve up a five-star evening of laughs at The Doyen Comedy Club

Comedian with beard and close-cropped hair holds guitar on stage
Ciaran Bartlett performs at The Doyen Comedy Club, Belfast, on Friday January 12 2024 PICTURE: Dermot Loughlin

SUMMING up any live performance is a tall order but doing a comedy gig justice is no laughing matter.

Retell someone else’s joke out of context without the comic timing honed over years of stagecraft and the energy of the room? You’ll end up saying: ‘You had to be there.’

So writing this review feels like stepping up to an open mic with stage fright. But when The Doyen announced the third in its series of stand-up nights the line-up screamed: you have to be there.

Stellar value at £12.50 for an evening’s high-quality entertainment in an intimate venue with a wonderful atmosphere, of course it sold out. The only way to beg for admission was to offer a review. ‘Will it be a good one?’ the voice on the phone asked. With Belfast’s own Ciaran Bartlett and William Thompson on the bill, it was always going to be a five-star verdict.

Discovering the north’s thriving comedy scene is like finding a Michelin-star restaurant a stone’s throw from your front door. Home-grown ingredients offer a distinctive flavour of where you come from

Discovering the north’s thriving comedy scene is like finding a Michelin-star restaurant a stone’s throw from your front door. Home-grown ingredients offer a distinctive flavour of where you come from.

Bartlett is at the top of his game with an assured stage presence, intelligent material and razor-sharp crowd work. A gifted singer and guitarist too, he has that rare knack of making comedy songs elicit grins and guffaws rather than groans.



If you know him from podcasts alone (No Blasters, Mythstories and plenty more), those are the cherry vape to his headlining stand-up routine’s Marlboro Red. Will you enjoy the set? Experience the occasional sharp intake of breath? Probably both. Humour is subjective, just as not everyone’s favourite food is the same - but sample the comedy club menu and your belly will be rewarded. With laughs.

Comedian with beard and brown hair gestures on stage
William Thompson performs at The Doyen Comedy Club, Belfast, on Friday January 12 2024 PICTURE: Dermot Loughlin

Fellow podcast regular (Mudblood and others) Thompson is going from strength to strength, this half-hour support slot whetting the appetite for a must-see full show.

Whatever your comedic taste, if you’re the type who goes out of your way to be offended you’ll be disappointed in The Doyen - it’s easy to get to, just off the M1. If you want a good laugh, well, you have to be there.

:: The Doyen, 829 Lisburn Rd, Belfast BT9 7GY. Comedian and Q Radio presenter Andrew Ryan is hosting a Six Nations preview chat at The Doyen with Devon Toner and Chris Henry on January 27. Tickets £12.50 at thedoyenbelfast.com.

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