Nath Valvo has a knack for nostalgia and although the title of his latest show Happy Idiot didn’t allude to too much- his set was an onslaught of noughties reminiscing and hilarious, albeit self-deprecating vitriol.
I always enjoy Nath. He’s energetic, fun, outrageous, crass and most importantly- born in the eighties. It is because I share this with Nath that I am sure to enjoy a majority of his material, which focuses primarily on the family dynamic growing up, the innocence and indeed tackiness of the nineties and the pop culture that came to define our collective adolescence. He also talks a lot about sex. And, pardon my perversity but that’s always fun for me. It’s also fun- or awkward, depending on which way you look at- if you take a date, like I did on Saturday night. On this note, while I would recommend taking a date to a Nath Valvo show- please don’t take your mother. Or your father for that matter as you may find yourself stifling laughter during Nath’s candid portrayal of an early sexual experience that involved his sister, both of his aunties (platonically of course) and a spa vent. Luckily, my comedy comrades were 1980s cats too, so I was able to appreciate this comedic moment in its intended way. Watching Nath up on stage re-enacting an early inappropriate sexual experience was a spectacular moment for comedy. Ok, perhaps spectacular is hyperbole but it was indeed the highlight of the show. Another highlight was the reminder of the thrill of a late night foreign SBS film for a teen growing up in the late nineties, early 2000s. Nath really facilitated a flooding back of memories from a simpler time, when the TV guide was poured over by curious teens looking for anything worthy of an MA rating and sexual references.
What occurred to me during Nath’s set this time around at the comedy festival is that he has really developed as a comedian. Over the years, I have seen bits and pieces of his work from Grindr: A Love Story, to catching him on the odd Saturday morning on Nova, to reviewing a more recent comedy festival show of his, Almost 30. What I noticed is that he’s got to the point where he has the audience’s attention and indeed laughter for the entirety of the show, I believe in the ‘biz’ it’s known as having the audience in the palm of your hand. Furthermore, Almost 30 had a distinct narrative trajectory so it was interesting to see him in a purely ‘stand-up’ capacity. While it is evident he can do both, I think I preferred his skillset displayed in Happy Idiot and I look forward to seeing what he prepares for audiences next year.
Thematically, while previous shows of his have really focussed on his sexuality and the various pitfalls of the one-night-stand, Happy Idiot barely made mention of recent exploits. Despite this divergence, what was a staple were the throwbacks to the 1990s which are always spirited and welcomed by the audience. I couldn’t really fault this show so let it be said Happy Idiot is a five-star set. I will say however, and I have made this criticism of Nath’s in the past- his comedy is never overly sophisticated- with this said though, I’m not always looking for that at the festival. Sometimes I just want to laugh at inappropriate memories from a bygone era and toast the loss of innocence. To be fair though, structurally, Nath’s shows are always very sound. Happy Idiot fulfilled yet another nostalgic desire for me last Saturday night and by virtue of the collective enjoyment of the audience, I’m sure word of mouth will facilitate a successful run for Nath.