Carl Donnelly’s The Nutter on the Bus is an intimate, memorable experience – and not in the way that similar encounters with bus-nutters traditionally are.

“Welcome to the bus,” he says, once everyone has squeezed together on passenger benches or up against a wall. You can still quietly hear the buskers and babble of Potterow below, but the colourful and cosy interior of this double-decker seems a world apart.

Donnelly cautiously appraises the crowd, tentatively warning the children against following in his footsteps. Then begins an hour long discussion of his search for answers and his outrageous encounters with some of South America’s most exotic drugs.

While for much of the audience, the experiences described were unfamiliar, suspicion and judgement are suspended in this somehow sacredly absurd environment. Donnelly makes eye contact around the bus, sharing fears and warning those who are running out of beer too quickly. It should be noted that the bottom cab of this bus serves alcohol.

Everyone laughs despite themselves. You find out why Donnelly became vegan, what the one exception to his code of zoo ethics is and which alternative therapies are appropriate to start with. Rather than surfacing in discrete jokes, the continuous humour seems like an effortless bonus for this natural-born storyteller.

He is not up on a stage preaching so much as he is on a bus confiding. He holds his microphone idly like a passenger holding a pole and it is only when someone needs to go to the loo, forcing everyone to readjust, that you remember this is a comedy show, not a wildly engaging conversation between a guy and his forty best friends.

Get on the bus and listen to Carl Donnelly talk about drugs. You won’t forget it.

Words: Emily Hall 

Carl Donnelley: The Nutter on the Bus, Bob’s BlundaBus, 10-27 (not 16), 7.30pm

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