Random Acts of Wrongness | James Moffett

Random Acts of Wrongness | James MoffettPhoto - James Penlidis

From the South Australian town of Goolwa via the Melbourne International Comedy Festival comes James Moffett – minus a sleeve, but with the titles of state finalist in Triple J’s Raw Comedy festival and finalist in Canberra’s Green Faces comedy competition to his name. He also comes with some positive reviews to recommend him: The Age described his confidence on stage as “unflinching”, while The Advertiser used words like “high energy” and “playful” to describe Moffett’s show.

So, after an amusing video involving two housemates and a Tim Tam, as well as a short support set by Daniel Connell that induced plenty of giggles, it was somewhat surprising to see Moffett’s time on stage unfold in the way it did. Beer in hand, Moffett certainly seemed relaxed as he took to the stage, and was confident enough to forgo his material for a good five minutes while he mused on the particulars of the stage set up. His playfulness was also on display – in fact some of his funniest moments came from interactions with the crowd and times when he let his jokes give way to plain, unscripted ridiculousness.

But perhaps the best words to sum up Moffett come from the title of his show, Random Acts of Wrongness. His material skips across a range of themes, from cow milking to picking up in nightclubs. And there are sections when, despite this randomness, his observations are genuinely hilarious and delivered with a great sense of comic timing. There is also a degree of “wrongness” to be found as Moffett refuses to shy away from overtly sexual or just plain gross subject matter.

So, in a lot of ways, Moffett lives up to his own description of himself. Yet despite ticking all the boxes, Moffett seemed quite openly disappointed with his set, stopping to sigh a number of times, and towards the end comparing the progress of the show to the stop-start movement of a dune buggy in the sand. At one stage he admitted what he was saying was “just an observation”, not a joke, and later went so far as to ask his watching tour manager how much time was left in the set.

The obvious explanation for Moffett’s apparent disappointment would be the fact that he was standing in a relatively small theatre that was less than half full. But that explanation would overlook the fact that, at times, Moffett simply didn’t give us a reason to start laughing.

Part of the issue could be that Moffett has not yet had enough time on stage to properly blend the observational side of his comedy with his more bizarre, over-the-top moments – the latter seeming to elicit the lion’s share of laughter. But, more than anything, Moffett needs to keep channelling that confidence mentioned in The Age. After all, comics can forget punch lines, lose track of stories, even offend large sections of the audience, and still be funny. But as soon as an audience feels like the person behind the microphone is giving up, that’s when things really do start to go wrong.

Random Acts Of Wrongness
James Moffett

Venue: The Street Theatre, Canberra
Dates: 14 - 15 August, 2009
Time: 7.30pm
Bookings/info: www.thestreet.org.au

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