Simon Keck – Nob Happy Sock

By Alanta Colley

Keck takes us on a tumultuous journey through the lows and the lower lows of his time on this planet; from his troubled entry into the world and the demise from there. We hear about the troubled relationship with his parents, the humiliation of his primary school days; the precarious world of being a comedian and the silent despair he endured during his days of working in an office.

The show has a confessional and vulnerable quality to it; as Keck shares with us some of the most difficult times of his life, as well as some of his most hilariously awful mistakes and the terrible things he’s said to people. Like all confessional acts there is a cathartic element to these revelations, as we groan and moan and laugh with Keck it feels like we are all part of a process of recognition and forgiveness.  Keck is a soulful story teller adept in the art of pathos.

The humbling intimacy of the story Keck shares with us is echoed in his stage presentation; barefoot and in his pyjamas. The stage has only a fridge for decoration, conveying a fragile domesticity fitting for the narrative.

Dealing with the challenging themes of depression and suicide, this show could easily be misinterpreted as an attempt to sensationalize Keck’s personal struggles for the purposes of entertainment. But his presentation is unvarnished, undramatized and non-judgemental. This show is a pleasing distinction from many of the gag-a-minute stand up routines you’ll find at the festival; a wholesome example of storytelling done very well.

The show is centred soundly around Keck’s relationship with the notion of asking people for help, which proves to be a universal and personal theme. Keck isn’t the first to locate laughter in near-tragedy, nor joy from sorrow, but he does it well. Aside from a few slightly suspect jokes around women, this show was an utter delight, a perfect addition to a healthy Fringe comedy diet.

Simon Keck – Nob Happy Sock is on at the Producers Bar until the 26th of March

Rhys Nicholson – Eurgh

By Alanta Colley 

Rhys Nicholson is set to make an impression. With razor sharp cheekbones under a bright red quiff, thick rimmed glassless glasses and elegant dining attire one does not expect a shrinking violet, and that is exactly what one doesn’t get.

Rhys emerges on stage in a flurry of masturbatory simulation, instantly articulating the tone of the show. Filth comedy is interspersed with personal thoughts on porn, atheism, blasphemy, the relationship with his boyfriend, the odd personal anecdote and a reflection on power dynamics in society. Nicholson’s delivery is dry, acerbic, and anti-establishment. Delivered in a droll fashion with a smile not once crossing his lips, this show is not for the faint of heart.

It’s important for a comedian to find their audience. On this particular night, Nicholson’s audience contained several elderly couples on their one night out for the week to experience as they audibly termed it ‘culture’, who had probably mistaken Nicholson’s debonair appearance as some sort of indication of a Sinatra-esque night of cocktail comedy.  Their shoddy heckles interspersed with stony silence were handled deftly by Nicholson, although there was a palpable feeling of regret in the room indicating that these people just weren’t meant to spend an hour together. Nicholson’s bio in the Fringe guide gave no indication that anal sex and fisting would be frequent features of his prose.  Nicholson definitely has an audience out there, and this wasn’t it.

Maybe this disparity sucked the energy out of the room; however Nicholson’s tales lacked a convincing through-line, matching book ends, nor the punch the edgier material was no doubt meant to elicit. The ending was unconvincing in its climax. While there are some genuinely original and amusing reflections in this hour of Eurgh, it never became clear exactly what this show was about, or why.

If you like your comedy risqué and rather raw, you and Nicholson are going to get on fine.

Rhys Nicholson – Eurgh is on until March 1 at The Rhino Room

Gravity Boots – Can you believe we’re in a forest?

By Alanta Colley

Adelaide-born duo Gravity Boots unleash their most recent batch of exotic, surreal and enchanting sketch comedy on the unsuspecting audiences of Adelaide this Fringe. From Victorian starlets on the run from odd monsters, to macabre children’s television presenters, and on to defective and murderous androids, we meet a cacophony of demented characters each more obscure, sculpted, and strange than the last. Each sketch echoes the absurdism of ‘League of Gentleman’ and Kubrick, but takes the genre a step further, somehow creating a robust internal logic that you are momentarily immersed in, though find yourself shaking your head with confusion seconds after its conclusion. The effect is deranged delight.

The two augment their poetic ramblings with a bevvy of accents, props and poses, though are far from reliant on these. An inexplicable and prolonged costume change mid show only added to the peculiarity. In this particular show all the characters seem to embody varying degrees of femininity; but what that might mean is as clear as mud. The two work exceptionally well together; perfect co-authors in their illusory manifestation.

The duo, James Lloyd-Smith & Michael Cleggett, who’ve been crafting their unique art for several years now have really honed the finer aspects of performing in this show. They continue to create vivid and hallucinogenic characters on the most unpredictable adventures. Though since their run last year in Edinburgh, some time being mentored by Paul Foot and with the help of director legendary Adelaide surrealist comedian Steve Sheehan, they’ve established the occasional pause during their onslaught of complex and verbose prose to allow the audience time to reflect and really appreciate the absurdity of what they are witnessing. The effect has been a transition from the sort of theatre where you are holding on desperately to every word trying to elicit some sort of meaning, to art that you can absorb and appreciate all the more. It’s been fantastic to watch these two own their material in this way.

Prepare yourself for surrealist lashings of the erotic, the macabre, and the entirely unpredictable. You’ll remember this show long after you leave the theatre.

Gravity Boots – Can you believe we’re in a forest? is on from Feb 16 to March 16 at the Tuxedo Cat – Raj House
Details at the Adelaide Fringe Website: