As one of Australia’s best known comedians, thanks to almost five years as co-host of The Project on Network 10 and two years fronting his own news satire program on the ABC, The Weekly, it’s difficult to imagine anyone would be surprised by what they’ll get with Charlie Pickering’s first MICF show in a number of years. Yet there are a number of elements of 59 Consecutive Minutes that might just be a revelation to some of his many fans.
For example, Pickering arrives at the festival from the US where he lives much of the year with his wife and family, for whom he converted to Judaism; in January he received 25 death threats in one day, and when on stage he’s more Country Road casual than he is his usual on-screen business suit chic.
Despite some diversions down obtuse paths, such as how easy it is to buy a Nazi flag online, Pickering’s set is constructed around what we know him for best – political satire – although it’s not as topical as our experience might lead us to expect. Perhaps having been off-air so far this year has meant that gags about Barnaby Joyce’s affair and the #metoo movement have been bottled up until now. That being said, they’re all as crisply observed as we’re used to hearing from him, and fans of Pickering will no doubt buy a ticket expecting to hear his mostly left-leaning observations.
It is interesting to hear him speak of his death-threat experience, brought about by his slip of tongue while hosting the ABC’s coverage of the Sydney NYE fireworks, when he said it was “the only time it’s OK to kill a police officer”, a gaffe that he says made him unemployable in Australia. Odd then that he wishes to drag it up again, regardless of how innocent his original intent. Perhaps it hasn’t hurt his career as much as he protests. If this solid set is anything to go by, it won’t be long before he’s on our screens again.