By Peter Newling
As the audience made itself at home in the unusually comfortable seats of ACMI’s Gandel Lab, the strains of the opening theme to the old Wheel of Fortune TV show kicked in. Memories of Baby John Burgess and Adriana Xenides were flooding back as Oliver Hunter rolled onto the stage.
Hunter’s career has reached a Jekyll and Hyde point – by day he is a disability consultant, by night a comedian. Unlike Stevenson’s creation, I can’t help but believe that there is significant overlap in both of his worlds of work.
At one point, he described his work as a comedian as: “You show up to a microphone and start talking”. And that pretty much describes how the show comes across. There’s no particular structure to the set. It’s more like a chat over a beer than a finely honed and practiced comedy routine. His set started somewhat nervously, with his delivery punctuated with constant umms and errrs, but he warmed into it – as indeed did his audience.
Hunter derives his material from his experiences as a man with disability. He gives his audience an insight into the trials and tribulations of trying to exist in an able-bodied world, with bathrooms, public transport, night clubs and his home town of Albury given particular attention.
He has a real knack for spotting funny moments in difficult situations. And he’s not afraid to go for shock value. He particularly delights when his audience responds with an “Oh Oliver – you can’t say that” type reaction. It’s unsettling, but his larrikin persona helps keep it on the playful side of sinister.
In only his second MICF show, Hunter is one of those important performers making comedy accessible and relatable to a new audience, through offering insights into his life experience. More power to him.
Oliver Hunter – Wheels of Fortune is playing April 11 to 23 at the ACMI Gandel Lab at 6:30pm (Tues to Sat) and 5:30pm (Sundays). https://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2023/shows/wheels-of-fortune