Winner of the 2013 MICF Barry Award and Edinburgh Fringe’s Perrier Award, the widely-toured and irascible Rich Hall is a frequent visitor to Australia. As for his last trip in 2016, he still doesn’t need a show title. But, what’s he up to these days?
Pretty much the same as last time is the short answer. In a very warm, crowded room, and starting around 20 minutes late (not his fault he claimed), Hall quickly showed that he’s a keen observer of Australia. He aimed some flattery towards us because we don’t have some of the USA’s problems, possibly just to lull us into a false sense of security.
Some of his work here was sharp and topical, such as on how we can find world news in the Australian media … once we get past eight pages of commentary on cricket ball tampering. His bemusement at the emotions stirred up by a story that didn’t involve starvation or a shooting ignited the room.
Hall continued on from his last visit and somewhat recent TV spots by making comment on President Trump. Perhaps a comic could enjoy a point of difference these days (and avoid audience fatigue with the matter) by not talking about the “orangutan with a combover” if there’s nothing substantially new or insightful to say.
Some parts of the show were recycled from past appearances, and fans might find these less enjoyable than they did the first time around. Those same fans might find themselves forced into making a choice. We can take the no show name, no theme, vaguely connected string of acerbic observations as a comforting hit of Rich Hall. Otherwise, we might feel that this show lacks the memorable highlights of past efforts, and accordingly, find his shtick now seems somewhat stunted.
However, if you’re looking for a reliably good night out (and don’t have expectations based on Hall’s better past efforts) judging from the regular bursts of audience laughter, you’ll likely get something satisfying enough. One thing’s for sure, Hall is a talented improviser. Employing a few snippets from the life of an audience member, his comedic songs self-accompanied on guitar showed impressive mental dexterity and earned some of the night’s biggest laughs.
Melbourne Town Hall, Swanston Street, Melbourne
Performance: Thursday 29 March 2018 – 8.20pm
Season continues to 8 April 2018
Information and Bookings: www.comedyfestival.com.au
Image: Rich Hall (supplied)
Review: Jason Whyte