By Peter Newling
ACMI is a great place to watch comedy. This room, usually a boutique cinema, has some of the most comfortable seats available in the festival. But once seated for Fin Taylor’s show, that may be the last time you feel totally comfortable for the next hour or so.
Fin Taylor starts his MICF show with a three-fold disclaimer: the material was written eight months ago, is based on the English socio-political situation at the time, and that he has no idea if it’ll work in Melbourne. He needn’t have worried about the disclaimer. Taylor’s set deals with global issues and global attitudes. It’s not timeless material, but it’s so so relevant.
The premise for Taylor’s show is that, in January, as a new years resolution, he decided to give up being a lefty. Or, as he puts it, he gave up being “a whiney little bitch”. And having this weight off his shoulders gives him the opportunity to stand back and take aim at the inaction of the left in staving off the Trump/Brexit/nationalist/fascist type issues affecting the world.
A product and personification of white male privilege, Taylor provides a slick and scathing assessment of the impotence of liberalism. But it’s also hilarious. His keen observations of the futility of armchair activism, and the unwillingness of people to turn dogma and hashtags into action are expressed with beautifully chosen phraseology.
No left-wing temples are spared in this crusade. Attitudes to immigration, post-Weinstein gender roles (he describes himself as a classical sexist), hipster breakfasts – all come in for exquisite scrutiny. His riffing on political correctness is extraordinary – pondering whether it’s more about the narcissistic needs of the protector, or those that need to be protected.
Taylor’s delivery is excellent, if at times a little garbled. He is very relaxed with this material, and thrives on audience discomfort. The laughs are constant over the course of the hour, the result of rapid fire delivery and pinpoint accuracy. His style reflects the proud traditions of well educated English comedy, but also (I hope) points to its future.
Lefty Tighty Righty Loosey is not going to appeal to everyone. If you’re a long suffering fan of the Bolt Report looking for a champion in comedy, you’re going to be disappointed. But so too will be rusted on leftists. Taylor walks a thin centrist line that will shock some, baffle others and delight the rest. It’s a show that deserves an audience.
This show has been my unexpected highlight of the festival so far, and I don’t think I’ll be alone in that assessment come late April.
Fin Taylor – Lefty Tighty Righty Loosey is playing at the ACMI Studio from March 29 to April 22, at 8:15pm (7:15pm on Sundays). Tickets through www.comedyfestival.com.au There will be an Auslan interpreted session on Thursday 12 April, 8.15pm.