Review: William Thompson: The Hand You're Dealt

Skilful and quick-witted hour of stand-up from one of Northern Ireland’s funniest new voices

comedy review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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William Thompson
Photo by Niall Horitz
Published 04 Aug 2023

Growing up disabled on a Belfast council estate in an adopted family with a drug dealer father isn’t an easy start in life for anyone. Luckily for William Thompson, it’s also ripe for material in this confident hour of stand-up from one of Northern Ireland’s funniest new voices. 

The Hand You’re Dealt is straightforward, no-gimmicks stand-up, mostly exploring Thompson’s childhood living with cerebral palsy in a Belfast characterised here as largely unsympathetic and ruthless. His teenage friends were emotionally repressed and brutal and his father uncaring and homophobic, directing his ire towards a straight but camp Thompson. But the hour is far from bleak; rather, Thompson effectively weaves light and shade, with a punchline always waiting around the corner. 

Thompson himself is a skilful and likeable comic, quick-witted in his interactions with the crowd and self-effacing in anecdotes about online dating and living with his grandparents. And in discussions of disability and prejudice, he is patient in bringing his audience along with him rather than seeking to attack any blind spots or ignorance, a call in rather than a call out. The result is an enjoyable and sometimes moving hour from a self-assured comedian destined for a successful comedy career.