Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide, 19 November 2022
Comedy is hard. Stand-up comedy is very hard, and should be left to stand-up comedians. Alas, Mick Molloy, Sam Pang and Marty Sheargold are stand-up comedians like Ricky Gervais is a stand-up comedian: getting by, but not demonstrating a core skill. These three are well known for their amusing work on TV (‘The Front Bar’, ‘Have You Been Paying Attention?,’ ‘Fisk’) and radio. They are all likeable and funny, but somehow, one didn’t take away anything particularly witty or memorable: it seemed a parody of what was promised to be “a night (in our case, an afternoon) of no-holds-barred, good old-fashioned stand-up comedy.” It was two-drink-minimum comedy; unfortunately, The Varnished Culture could not get anywhere near the hopelessly understaffed and overcrowded bar before the show. The one professional, Lawrence Mooney, had the smoothest routine, though his material seemed a little frozen in the 1980s/90s. It is his personal tragedy (though our collective luck) that Malcolm Turnbull is no longer of relevance: his impersonation of that cocktail-party joke was one for the ages, but there’s no place for it now.
Which is not to say the show was a washout: there were laugh-out loud moments from all four players –
Molloy rubbed the crowd’s noses in the defeat of the Adelaide Crows in the 2017 Grand Final (P enjoyed this particularly, Richmond being his preferred VFL team) and recounted how after the game the pubs were so full that crowds of Tiger fans established a local drive-through as an actual venue, buying and consuming grog and chanting “We’re From Liquorland“;
Sam Pang riffed on the Asian Thing, which he does very well – we liked his golf round with aged club member ‘Herb’ who thought he may have been a Japanese soldier – Pang’s recurrent loathing of Anh Do was a highlight, and his idea for a re-make of “Diff’rent Strokes,” involving people who had actually suffered different strokes, was funny in a mean way;
Marty Sheargold was the best of the first three – he has a good grumpy-old-man act, and the story about his Dad chasing Sheargold’s brother around the kitchen table, after the lad cut out a picture for a school essay from the family’s treasured World Book Encyclopedia, was splendid enough to evoke memories of Carl Barron’s act;
Lawrence Mooney’s stuff comes and goes, but he is seamless and quick, so that hits cover misses. His venerable review, of why more wives don’t murder more husbands, was richly enlivened by the one about her as designated driver having roundabouts explained, and revving the car while drunken hubby, en route to open the garage door at home, risks mortal injury dancing in front of the headlights – shades of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
– but the Rat Pack they ain’t.