There's no doubting that Ben Lomas has hit a rich seam of comedy gold with the subject of Melbourne's obsession with coffee.
You could write more than one thesis on how we've gone from thinking instant coffee was an acceptable norm to demanding that a full range of at least a dozen styles and flavours be available with cold drip filters and single-origin options becoming almost passé.
Lomas has the right style to tackle this trend, with a natural, dry delivery that is confidently hip but has a friendly hint of bogan. He works the audience well and has an easy-going style with a quick intelligence.
And he certainly starts strongly, with some epic attempts at matching career to coffee choice of audience members that wins him an instant rapport, despite – or maybe because of – his lack of success.
Lomas also paints hilarious pictures of various trendy cafes he's visited as part of his 'research' and he reveals a good eye for human foibles and idiosyncracies, of which there are plenty in the world of baristas, hipsters and café seating arrangments.
But then he started to go a bit off topic and – more disappointingly, off-style – and the laughs dried up for a while.
Is the mental image of a whole heap of office workers defecating in harmony of a morning amusing? Maybe I missed something in the telling, but somehow the stories became a bit off-colour, while promising ideas that started well were left unfinished and incomplete. We went from high-grade arabica to International Roast.
The stoics in the audience kept up the laughs and Lomas never faltered, valiantly pulling it back together before the finale, but the momentum never quite recovered.
There are some moments of excellence in his show and overall it's a pleasant enough way to spend an hour of an evening, but I left with the feeling that Lomas has somehow missed an opportunity to fully exploit a subject that offered such rich potential.
Ben Lomas is The Caffeinator
Venue: Five Boroughs | 68 Hardware Lane, Melbourne
Dates: 9 - 20 Apr, 2013
Tickets: $15 - $20
Part of the 2013 Melbourne International Comedy Festival