After a bad run earlier in the week, I was hoping last Friday night would signify a sharp turn in my comedy festival luck. Unfortunately, my disappointment rolled into Greg Fleet’s latest show, The Games Master. Fortunately, it was performed in the distinguished looking Council Chambers which provided much needed visual stimulation for my gaze as the show tumbled along, failing to enthral.
As I sat in the audience, enduring the awkward silences, I wracked my brain for reasons why Fleet had endeared himself to me, indeed enough to request tickets to see him perform. Upon closer examination I loosely recollected Greg Fleet guest performances on Good News Week and Spics and Specs from my adolescence. I concluded that this must have stimulated my nostalgic curiosity.
Trying to write this review now, I’m struggling to remember what the set was actually about as it translated for the most part as random and not always enthralling, ramblings. Fleet appeared disengaged for a majority of it and at one point I thought he might just declare it all over and retreat backstage.
Despite some horribly enthusiastic people behind me (perhaps the fan club), the laughs were scarce and the audience intimate which made it even more awkward.
I felt for him though, he looked tired and unenthused. His jokes entailed elaborate set-ups with disappointing climaxes and I started to wonder if he too felt disconnected with the material. He had also placed a number of pieces of paper at various points on the stage which I thought would become part of the show. In the end, after the paper didn’t feature and he just glanced at them from time to time, I deduced that perhaps they had served as prompts. For such a seasoned performer, I had expected more from Fleet.
The show seemed to lack structure and he even checked the time with the technical staff at one point close to the end, to ensure he didn’t hold up his crowd. I couldn’t help but feel like a test audience of new material although post-show research has proved otherwise, Fleet has performed this one before at other festivals.
My lasting impression of him was that he seemed like a nice sort of human being and he’s indeed battled his demons over the years so I’ll have to leave the critical stuff there. He’s not long sober again and has met a new partner which is a wonderful achievement on the personal front. Hopefully in the next few years, I’ll get another chance to positively reassess his stand-up. For the moment though, for a variety of reasons but primarily because it didn’t make me laugh, this one wasn’t for me.