By Ash Cottrell
I’m old enough and lucky enough to have grown up in an era that embraced the undeniable talent that is, Paul McDermott. As an adolescent, I knew him as the lead member of the anarchistic trio, The Doug Anthony All Stars and then, as the front man for Good News Week, a variety/news show that in retrospect, puts The Project to shame. McDermott had it all, he was smart, funny, supremely talented AND he could sing. His banter with guests was quick, intellectually stimulating and quite often came with an expertly concealed prod. For want of a better word, he was cheeky. In terms of his role as a host, he sits somewhere in between the charm of Jimmy Fallon, the sharp intellect of Conan O’Brien and the crassness of Chelsea Handler. In my humble opinion, he’s one of the greatest hosts of late-night variety, in the history of television. No hyperbole- the man is brilliant.
With that in mind, you can imagine just how excited I was for a night at Malthouse Theatre to see him in the flesh, accompanied by a guitarist he refused to introduce, in classic McDermott style. My post-show-research indicated that the guy’s name was Glenn Moorhouse. Suffice to say, the two had exhilarating chemistry and perpetuated sheer joy, both onstage and during the seemingly impromptu encore.
During the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Paul McDermott graced Melbourne audiences for four days only with his latest touring show, Paul McDermott Plus One and much to the audience (and indeed the talent’s dismay,) we were all positioned outside at the fanciful erection that is Malthouse Outdoor Stage, for the blessed event. Ordinarily, I would imagine outdoor theatre is spectacular in the upwardly mobile surrounds of South Bank. But, with snow officially knocking at the door, it was not only arctic temperatures we were battling, but there was also sudden scattered, sideways-type-rain that had us all drenched and huddled under limited umbrellas. McDermott made the most of the opportunity though, swearing at the Gods for the weather, making us all laugh through squinted eyes that were battling the rain coming directly onto our faces. I have to say, I was thrilled to have had tickets to McDermott, and he didn’t disappoint on any accounts, in fact, it’s quite possibly one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.
In terms of content, Paul McDermott Plus One was as expected. It was characterised by current affairs, old fashioned cynicism and lots and lots of songs. Unsurprisingly, it was clear that McDermott has an absolutely spectacular voice, which was even more impressive in the outdoor arena, projecting into the miserable Melbourne night. After performing for just on an hour, on his way out of the venue, he suddenly jumped up on a precarious table outside Malthouse and dedicated himself (and Glenn) to another thirty minutes of serenading us. His generosity as a performer warmed the cockles of my heart, as he enthusiastically engaged his adoring audience.
When I arrived home from the theatre, it was increasingly clear that I was going to struggle to get to sleep. I was all abuzz with the contagious energy of the show. I awoke in the wee hours of Friday morning, lap top open. I’d awoken from a reminiscent slumber, Doug Anthony All Stars, Live at the National Theatre, playing on YouTube.
It’s official. My previously dormant Paul McDermott crush has officially been reignited and I’m all aflutter.