Rich Hall is taking his shoes off to fight terrorism, and he wants everyone to know how stupid it is.
Hall’s untitled Melbourne International Comedy Festival show is exactly the kind of dry humour one needs in today’s world. In a dark basement under the Melbourne Town Hall, his audience is regaled with stories about politics, crime, the dangers on our streets, and the plight of asylum seekers, all delivered with Hall’s signature dry (so dry you’ll need a drink afterwards) wit.
He opens rather fittingly with commentary on today’s political climate, with both jabs at Australia’s revolving door government, and the problems he has with the toupee-topped gentleman who might accidentally win his home country’s election. This is where he introduces the first song of the evening – did I mention he’s also a musical comedian? – ‘The Ballad of Donald Trump’, a spoken word criticism of the man, the myth, the legend.
Hall delights in his own comedy, though it rarely shows on his face. When it does, when he breaks into a little smile, it makes his jokes all the more meaningful and hilarious compared to his usual dour demeanour. And hey, we all need to laugh at ourselves, how else would we be able to live in a country with dual-purpose key cutter/shoe repair stores, because Hall is right, those are weird.
While Hall is an excellent stand up comedian, his show felt a little lacking at the beginning. Maybe because this was a preview night, maybe because he was jetlagged and trying out new stories, but there seemed to be moments where he lost his joke a little, and trailed off into muttering. Maybe that’s his style, but it came across as unprepared rather than natural storytelling.
His song writing, however, is top notch. Of course he has a style and general plot already set out for his improvisational song, but I was particularly impressed with his impromptu cowboy song about an accountant’s assistant in the front row, and his ribbing of her boyfriend beside her. Hall’s other songs ranged from delightfully grim – ‘Existential Security Questions’ aka ways to make yourself feel sad when you call the bank – to almost-heart-warming – his final piece, a trucking song about a hitchhiking asylum seeker.
Hall’s show is great fun, so long as you’re not already upset with the state of the world, I guess. He’s not going to cheer you up (well… maybe he will if you like a gentle ribbing about Australian culture), but he is going to make you laugh.