The legendary Kathy Griffin referred to stand – up as brick wall comedy. Without a clear safety net, there was nothing supporting the artist other than a plain backdrop.
Good material and the performer's ability to deliver it well can make or break an experience. So many variables hang in the balance.
The fine art of joke – telling also has an unspoken rule attached to it. Value for money, is often determined by a set-'em-up, knock-'em-down aspect, where stories and punch lines need to be delivered at a rapid-fire pace in order to succeed.
While it is the most spare form of entertainment on offer at this year's Melbourne International Comedy Festival, for these reasons and more, stand – up is by far the most difficult to get right.
Having said that, Saturday night is prime time and punters are out on the town determined to be entertained. This was clear in the foyer and within the packed space at the Grand Mercure Hotel. The venue was simply buzzing with pre-show excitement.
Jacques Barrett, like his show’s title, is The Confident Profiler. He also claims to be a master of the snap judgment.
However, quickly turning focus on personal merits including his own name, the irony is, Barrett has spent most of his adult life doubting anything and everything. From the handsome comic’s dating potential to his outward physical appearance, as an overweight teenager, in spite of subsequently slimming down, it still left him with a fat brain. A slide segment narrated early in the show beautifully reinforced that point. It was an ingenious way for Barrett to connect with the capacity crowd as well.
Covering a wide array of accessible and relevant topics, it was a pleasure to see Barrett twist cultural phenomena like 50 Shades of Grey (on a budget), Facebook stalking tips, gym junkies, hipster dudes, cougars’ relationship rituals, and what pedometers really measure, for maximum comic effect.
To reinforce that he actually isn’t that great a judge of character, Barrett told a fascinating story about his own experience with slightly older partner which made my jaw drop in astonishment. The dating world really is a jungle out there!
Despite admitting to be pumped full of Sudafed, Barrett’s whip smart routine didn’t disappoint. It was a delight to see him work the room with a fantastic set and ride the crowd’s wave of knowing approval and appreciation time and again.
Barrett even asked his audience to imagine that they were seeing a 9:45 evening session instead of one starting at 7:45pm. The adult nature of his material justified the request, and doesn’t seeing something later give it a more grown-up and exclusive appeal?
This gifted stand – up’s act is running until April 19. Don’t miss out.