Nominated for a Barry Award at the last three Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s it’s fair to assume this year’s set by Damien Power should be a reliable entertainment, and it is. Solidly structured and often very well observed, it shows glimmers of his ability to use intellect to subvert expectations on a joke and take you down very funny rabbit holes of weird but wonderful humour. Whether it’s as good as his efforts from the last three years is hard to substantiate though.
Starting strongly, by sharing the pain of what it’s like to live nearby your ex-wife, child and her Porsche driving new partner is tragically hilarious. How do you ignore your child’s cries of acknowledgement when he’s with your ex and her current boyfriend, and all you want to do is blank them. The pain of this sort of situation creates superb comedy.
Moving on from there and that relationship, Power explains how he met his new girlfriend and what he loves about her. She seems to have great sense of humour, which is super important; she’s also a black African Muslim, which really shouldn’t be that important, but for Power it seems to be. Sure, religious differences can be a great source of material for comedic observations, but it feels like Power wants some kind of prize for his open-mindedness. He loves trying to take his humour into dark and inappropriate places, but it all feels too easy to do and like saying something mildly shocking in an effort to be thought of as edgy.
It’s probably not hard to tell that Power’s style of humour didn’t do much for me – especially when he chooses to put on a camp, sibilant voice whenever pretending to be someone he wants to make fun of – but his audience of mostly middle-aged, suburban types love him. For them, this is a rollicking 50 minutes (not 60 minutes as advertised) of chortling laughter.