As his fourteenth show for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Quality is a confident production from Tom Gleeson. Whether the name reflects the content is a question to be answered by the crowds, but certainly goes further to reflect the self-assured stance this comedian holds in front of his audience.
Looking tidy in a two-piece suit, Gleeson strides onto the stage, and following a small bit of the obligatory audience banter, spares little time before launching into an anti-Liberal and anti-Abbot tirade. As he himself points out, it’s unlikely that many in his audience will be likely to be up in arms about his views, being attendees of an arts festival, but he nonetheless takes a risk of alienating a fair portion of his audience.
One might say that taking pot shots at the prime minister is comedic bread and butter, but Gleeson doesn’t pull any punches with his aggressive style. Moreover, that extends across every aspect of his set. Angry outbursts about breakfast menus and coffee orders fall squarely into grumpy old man territory and could frankly be best described as humorous complaining. But they are undoubtedly entertaining complaints!
Gleeson attempts to soften his persona with charming tales of his baby daughter and trying to swim the width of Fraser Island’s fresh water lake, but ultimately the combination of confidence and aggression can come off slightly arrogant.
While it must be difficult to find the right name for your Festival show considering how much earlier than when they are often written that the organisers ask you what the title of your show is, but Gleeson seems to have made no effort to find a link for ‘Quality’. Unless he’s trying to put a label of assessment upon his work, in which case the arrogance is up front for all to see.
This poised, well-structured production sits in the upper levels of the wide suite of Australian output produced for this year’s Comedy Festival.