Rod Quantock is one of Australia’s longest standing comedians. And for a stand up comic, that’s quite an achievement.
His latest show, First Man Standing at Trades Hall, is a retrospective of a forty year career that has encompassed comedy, theatre and television, as well as being an extremely active and outspoken left wing political campaigner.
As we filter into the cavernous Trades Hall Council Chambers, Quantock greets each audience member at the door. The crowd appears to be an adoring, devoted bunch that have followed Quantock’s career over the years and he knows more than several by name. In this way the show seemed more like a gathering of old friends rather than a performer trying to charm a faceless and distant theatre audience. This high-spirited, informal atmosphere was continued throughout the performance, which included much discussion and interaction with the audience, encouraged and facilitated by Quantock himself.
Quantock regales us with stories from his early career, from encounters with Vogue magazine to mishaps with croissants in Paris. His famous traveling performance installation Bus is discussed and we are taken on a virtual exploration of Melbourne’s outer suburbs through the wonders of Google earth.
An affable and extremely energetic character, Quantock is the embodiment of the themes of his work. He encourages his audience to break down political and social barriers and urges people to be more aware, open and less afraid of each other. He also possesses a healthy lack of respect for personal space and strong larrikin streak, including a finely honed talent for spinning yarns and telling tall tales.
As we embark upon the second half however, the direction of the piece becomes less focused. The action seems to revert to a rehashing of old material rather than commenting on or examining Quantock’s career. Quantock is a fluid, stream-of-consciousness comedian, following tangents wherever they may lead him. Having said this, the material sometimes meandered and would perhaps benefit from an edit to focus the thematic direction of the show.
Rod Quantock is an extremely energetic and passionate performer whose frenetic energy didn’t waver over the course of the two-hour show. His charisma and commitment haven’t dissipated over an amazing career that has spanned four decades. Just don’t be late. And whatever you do, don’t call him Captain Snooze.
Rod Quantock presents
FIRST MAN STANDING
Venue: Trades Hall, Carlton
Dates/Time: Wednesday 6 August to Saturday 6 September, 8:00pm
Tickets: Wednesdays/Thursdays Full $30, Conc $20; Fridays/Saturdays Full $35 Conc $30
Bookings: www.comedyattrades.com.au or (03) 9659 3569 or at the door.