Impractical Jokes | Charlie PickeringSell-out shows on London’s West End, packed houses at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, New Zealand International and Melbourne Comedy Festivals, an “ever-growing legion of international fans” and an appearance on UK television - with accolades like that, how could a show not have you splitting your sides with laughter? How could it not leave you with a tired jaw and stomach muscles tighter than a Chippendale’s abs? On paper, it was a sure bet. In reality, it was a little lighter than I’d hoped.

Charlie Pickering
is - somewhat refreshingly - one of those comedians who step outside the box a little. No clichéd politics, no desperate sexual frustration, no sexist domestic woes and no witty religious observations. Rather, he’s an amiable storyteller - a likable bloke’s bloke but not in that ocker, outdated Aussie way. Non-offensive, non-threatening and far from patronising, he goes to great lengths to make the audience comfortable, welcome latecomers with only the tamest ridicule and ensure everyone is following his story. Unfortunately, this is both a strength and a weakness in this entirely likeable and funny but ultimately unremarkable performance.

Impractical Jokes is a story of a war - a war that raged for a decade between Pickering’s father and his father’s best friend. It is a war that began with his father being pushed into a swimming pool and the one-upmanship that followed: a series of meticulously planned and painstakingly undertaken practical jokes. The level of creative genius is extraordinary. From realistic machine gun water pistols to the many wonderful uses for concrete, Pickering retells of a time when he was a mere accomplice to his role model’s undying obsession and lack of maturity. It is the reason, the comedian points out, why he loves his dad. Endearing as it may be, the problem lies in the feeling that the narrative is more suited to a filmed script, albeit one that could be up there with ‘Meet The Fockers’ for visual gags and cinematic laughs. However, as one man on stage going through the motions, it just felt like a really funny script pitch or - at worst - a witty conversation.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Charlie Pickering’s Impractical Jokes is a thoroughly enjoyable show with many laugh-out-loud moments. He’s a genuinely likable character, with a definite gift for storytelling and a wonderful physicality. He even does a great Scottish Nazi and flamboyant German, for anyone who enjoys the odd impersonation. It’s just that it’s akin to attending a summer BBQ, where the amiable funny guy has a monopoly on the conversation for that little bit too long. Sure, the story’s hilarious - and it truly is - but you wonder when he’s going to stop and you certainly wouldn’t want to hear it a second time when you bump into him again by the beer fridge. Unfortunately for me, I want to come out of a stand-up comedy act with my sides well and truly split and that urge to see it again; I want to buy the DVD, invite friends around and add sharp new observations to my daily life.

Perhaps all those wonderful accolades led me to have much higher expectations; perhaps the yarn just overstayed its welcome at some point. It’s difficult to say but it’s possible I like those old comedy clichés more than I’d care to admit. Of course, if you like your stand-up light, fun and friendly, Impractical Jokes will be well and truly up your alley - just know what to expect and you’re sure to have a great time.

TOKEN Events presents
Charlie Pickering

Venue: Visy Theatre
Dates: 16 – 21 October
Times: Tue – Sat 8pm, Sun 5:45pm
Tickets: $22/$18
Bookings: 3358 8600 or

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