There’s a brown leather couch, and a table with a mug and a photograph displayed of Aaron Gocs and his two daughters. We’re in his lounge room, as Gocs laughingly splutters out a couple of times in the show.
Divorced … With Children is a 60-minute telling of Gocs’ life thus far. He was never the cool kid at school, instead taking refuge at the local skateparks on weekends. And he hasn’t always been lucky in love, either, in his early days finding it difficult to forge relationships with the opposite sex. Until, someone came along via a dating website. In his naivety, as Gocs describes it, he fell head over heels, realising too late his ex-wife’s impure motives for being with him. Since then, life has primarily consisted of learning, with many ups and lows, how to be a good dad to his two daughters.
From what I could tell, Gocs’ show is one of the most earnest, down-to-earth in the festival. A fair amount of comedic material is generally sourced from one’s personal experience, but it’s usually embellished, moulded and projected to create ridiculous or outlandish jokes. Gocs’ performance doesn’t seem so artificial, and a substantial portion of Divorced … With Children feels authentic; like you’re watching a man getting some difficult issues off his chest.
The show doesn’t necessary result in one uproarious laugh after the other, but it does often touch a nerve in the audience. At one point, Gocs mocks the idea that he – or any comedian, for that matter – is an artist, but isn’t art significantly about making people feel something? And can’t that sometimes be more important than some shallowly contrived joke for a bunch of laughs?
Divorced … With Children isn’t solely about Gocs’ life and divorce, taking sizeable detours into the origins of fast food drive throughs and the moral and implications of self-serve checkouts. It’s here where Gocs can escape from some of the more serious material and find humour in these ostensibly trivial and mundane facts of everyday life.
In Gocs’ show, Divorced … With Children, you get to see a real person tell their story, of what has proven trying in their life, and what makes it meaningful. Unless Gocs has fooled me entirely and made it all up – though I doubt he could fake such authenticity.
Divorced … With Children is son at the Victoria Hotel until 21 April.