Josh Earl is XXX

By Annette Slattery

It’s hard to find the right adjective to describe Josh Earl. He is a contrast. On the one hand he presents a show of high energy, adorably relatable, poppy joy. But he is also dryly acidic, knowingly exasperated and bluntly honest. However I can think of a couple of adjectives that do fit him neatly, such as fabulously funny.

Earl has turned thirty. As someone two months shy of her fortieth birthday, I was concerned that thirty year old Josh Earl was going to bemoan his advancing age. Earl however is quite aware that he’s not old; in fact this show sees him questioning whether he’s grown up enough. This fear is enunciated to him by nine year old Rosie, a character who has appeared in two of his previous shows. This monopoly playing adversary believes that Earl has grown old without ever becoming a grown up. Rosie has a list of criteria by which she judges whether someone is grown up and it is upon this list that Earl hangs this show.

In doing so he tells us about his son, his marriage and his driving history. He assesses his own level of wisdom (occasionally comparing himself to an owl), determines if he’s ever had a proper job and discusses his home rental history. Earl’s take on these stories is never dull, never ham and never old hat. He works from his individual history thus rendering his tales authentic.

Whilst Earl began his comic existence as a musical comedian, usually accompanied by Tasmanian cohort Justin Heazlewood (The Bedroom Philosopher) these days he’s a “comedian who uses music”. His musical ability has in no way diminished; in fact it has expanded in style and content, becoming occasionally reminiscent of Flight of the Conchords. The difference is that Earl doesn’t rely on musical interludes but rather he uses them to enhance his comedy.

Earl relates to his audience exceptionally well. Whilst he may be well known enough to attract a favourable demographic, his work is accessible enough to attract knowing laughs from a wide spectrum of society. Nevertheless he is never in danger of becoming “broad”.

This is not a show that will disappoint. In fact I was thrilled to see this young (yeah I said young) comedian’s latest stage of evolution. Josh Earl is a youthful thirty years old. But he is also fabulously funny.

Josh Earl is XXX is on at Arthurs Bar on Flinders Lane