Dirk Darrow, the titular investigator in Tim Motley's '2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Jaded Dick', is a man straight out of a noir detective thriller, with a little more of a penchant for puns than might be expected of the evening's Jaded Dick.

While he opens with a little current humour – Tony Abbott jokes are always appreciated by a politically-cynical Melbourne International Comedy Festival audience – the show is set in 1930s America, complete with a bank robbery, a dazzling dame (with a fetish for Jehovah's Witnesses, hence her 'knockers'), and various anachronistic magic tricks.

There are three parts to the evening: one is the simple story of a jaded detective solving a bank robbery, pulling audience members up to ask as his cast as the tale progresses. It's entertaining to say the least, Motley delivers his tale at a great pace and knows how to weave the secondary aspect of the show, his collection of atrocious puns, throughout his monologue without breaking character (all that often).

The third, and unfortunately the least effective part of the evening, is Darrow's (or is it Motley's?) penchant for magic. Pre-show, the audience are encouraged to fill out little identification cards, with a few questions or instructions to draw a scene from earlier in the day. I, most intellectually, drew a woman walking two pugs at the same time, though as I'm not artistically-minded, they were just sort of four legged lump creatures.

These cards are finally used by Motley with the intent to dazzle the audience with his mind reading abilities, but the section falls flat as audience members refuse to play along, having filled their cards with misinformation. The following magic tricks, a story told via deck of cards, and a bill-in-the-sealed-envelope trick are impressive, but are soured by how much Motley struggled to complete the first trick. Still, he regains his pace throughout the noir story sections of the show, so it's easy to fall in love with that atmosphere.

Motley is an excellent comedian who falls flat only when relying on other people – but people are notoriously unreliable anyway, as we see the curtain fall away and the true mastermind of the bank robbery is revealed. So really, the jaded dick is right to be jaded, by his life, and his audience.

 

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