Hellraiser | Peter HelliarAs I walked into to the Powerhouse Theatre last night to see Peter Helliar’s latest show, Hellraiser, I was surprised to see it packed with Brisbane locals. Obviously, as a regular on Rove Live, he has become a household name. For me, personally, this meant he had a lot to live up to; he had to deliver something exceptional in order to uphold his household name. In many ways, Helliar achieved this.

I have now a growing appreciation for comedians. To stand on a bare stage and entertain an audience through your words and body alone is an incredible task, a task which I believe Helliar has a natural talent for. There is something intimate, infectious and personal about his delivery. Something I can’t quite put my finger on. But within his performance, Helliar is sharing his comedy with the audience. He’s not delivering, he’s not apologizing, and he’s not asking us to accept him. He is, however, sharing, and within the course of this sharing, we laugh or not, but Helliar remains intriguing.

The strongest points of his delivery for me were in the physical aspects of his performance. Helliar has a gift for delivering a very simple joke, but expanding on it through physical punchlines that leave the audience in stitches. He knows when to pause, when to mark his face with a significant facial expression, and when to give in and laugh along with the audience (and the ridiculousness of his actions).

Another striking talent, lies in what I’m deciding to call Helliar’s candid comedy. These are those candid moments when he looks to the audience and his surroundings for the material for his next skit or joke. Most memorable was when a mobile phone began to ring within the audience, despite the various warnings prior to beginning. Helliar, without missing a beat, incorporated this into his skit, proving his comedy to be something admirably natural. There is something magic in his timing and his desire to seek out these moments. As an audience member, I walked away feeling like those moments were just for the audience, and that appeals to me as part of the whole experience.

However, there were moments of disappointment, moments where I mouthed the punchline before it was uttered from his lips. To me, if it is predictable, then I’m usually disappointed. I like to be surprised, and challenged, and while Hellraiser was very funny at times, it wasn’t anything particularly innovative. There were jokes about politics, about terrorism and about the ever colourful world of family. To me, these are the topics and targets of so many comics out there that at times I felt a little bored. Furthermore, his observations were observations that I myself had often made. I like it when the comedian is sharing a view of the world that I cannot consider or fathom in my daily grind. Despite this, Helliar’s personality shines through to engage audience members. He is incredibly likeable, and thus why I believe he has deserved success as a comedian.

In general, it was a very enjoyable night, if not completely for me, then definitely for many of the other audience members in the vicinity. It is worth seeing Helliar for no other reason than to appreciate the magic of him live (who knows what kind of moments he’ll create when you’re in the audience), something which I believe doesn’t necessarily transfer when he is on television.

Token Events presents

Powerhouse Theatre
Dates/Time: Tue 6 Nov – Sat 10 Nov 7.30pm
Tickets: Wed - Fri $32/$29, Sat $36
Bookings: 3358 8600 or brisbanepowerhouse.org

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