Rich HallAs I take my seat in the theatre, the woman next to me asks if I’ve seen Rich Hall perform before. “No not really. I mean – only on the telly”. “Oh he’s awesome. I saw him three years ago, he was awesome.” Wow - two ‘awesomes’ already and I’ve only just sat down. Doing the math in my head I calculate that the stranger sitting next to me must have seen Hall perform his show in 2013 – the year he won the prestigious Barry Award. By all accounts, it was… well… awesome.

Arguably one of the biggest names in world comedy at the moment, Rich Hall has developed quite a following from his regular appearances on TV including QI, Never Mind The Buzzcocks, Spicks and Specks and The Glass House, not to mention a string of his own shows for the BBC. He’s also become something of a fixture at the Melbourne Comedy Festival, gaining in popularity with each passing year. As he points out, when he first started, he was assigned the rather unfriendly 10.15pm slot – this year his show starts at 7pm.

In his trademark understated drawl, he takes aim at the idiosyncrasies of life in the west, while saving his harshest critique for his home country – the immanent threat that is the decidedly un-presidential Donald Trump, or pointing out the absurdity of duck hunting with an AK47. He occasionally works himself into a lather of faux outrage, spiralling into ever more preposterous levels of paranoiac detail, and yet frequently emerges with pearls of common sense wisdom. You really want to catch ducks? Try a loaf of bread.

His press release describes him as a ‘cranky Yank’ (he once claimed to be one of the inspirations behind The Simpson’s Moe Szyslak – a fact apparently confirmed by Matt Groening himself), and while fake ‘crank’ is a big factor in this current show, he also indulges his philosophical side, as evidenced by his musical musings on the regrets of a retired racing greyhound, or the potential use of existential security questions to protect online bank accounts.

Indeed, for me it was the musical numbers that were the highlight of the show. Having built a rapport with a young couple in the front row, he launched into a number of songs that effortlessly managed to reference his new friends with hilarious and often razor sharp lyrics.

This is a terrific show, and no doubt a pretty safe bet amongst an ocean of shows on offer in one of the worlds largest festivals. Hall is an impressive performer who despite his gruff persona is actually very likeable on stage – at one point he extends an open invitation for the audience to visit him at his home in Montana (you’ll have to see the show to get the address).

Melbourne International Comedy Festival presents
Rich Hall

Venue: Melb Town Hall - Lower Town Hall | Cnr Swanston & Collins Sts, Melbourne
Dates: March 24 – April 4, 2016
Bookings: 1300 660 013 |

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