In his teens, Hal Cruttenden listened to NWA and regretted that his presence didn’t instil a sense of “threat” in the public. Things haven’t changed much for this now middle-aged man called “Chubster” by his teenage daughters. At least he was able to use NWA’s music to inspire his show’s title Straight Outta Cruttenden.
Cruttenden’s lack of menace might be to do with his round face and (generally) benign demeanour. This made me think of a small fluffy dog, something like a Pomeranian. His toothy smile often looks anxious or submissive, yet, just occasionally, it can flash into a snarl. I had come to the show hoping to see some of the amusing bite I’d seen on his recent television spots. Unfortunately there was very little of this, and the TV had already shown me his best material.
Cruttenden went through some issues of hating the fragility of middle age, and thinking back to his teen years when he wasn’t very pleasant. He interacted with appropriately aged audience members to get their perspectives. He spent a long time deriding people who use Facebook for attention seeking. This was a little curious for a man whose stand up show is mostly about him.
The show will benefit from giving an Australian audience more context for the specific UK material. Most of us aren’t going to have a suitable frame of reference to appreciate matters such as the subtleties of the IRA’s actions in Northern Ireland in the 1990s.
I did like some of the more surprising topics, such as how people from the Victorian era would have had legitimate reasons to complain on Facebook. However, there wasn’t as much of this novelty as I would have liked. Straight Outta Cruttenden feels a pretty comfortable, middle-class, non-edgy offering that delivered good laughs to some on the review night and not others. It might not appeal to those looking for hip-hop attitude or opinions on big issues.
Hal Cruttenden: Straight Outta Cruttenden
The Powder Room – Melbourne Town Hall, Swanston Street, Melbourne
Performance: Saturday 26 March 2016 – 8.30pm
Season continues to 17 April 2016
For more information, visit: www.comedyfestival.com.au for details.
Image: Hal Cruttenden (supplied)
Review: Jason Whyte