Comedy: the panacea for all ills? What is comedy, these days? Have we politically-corrected ourselves into the grey zone, with ‘squeamacious-sells’ underlying every nuance that might offend, affront or abuse our sense of ourselves, or where we may sit in society? Oh, too many questions by far: I need a good laugh. Obviously we ALL need a good laugh in ‘these troubled times’ (when were the times not troubled by something?) and as ABC2 has picked up the vibe, focusing on a designated comedy channel – well, I, for one, say “hallelujah”. Make me laugh: not singularly at the farcical fantasies of so many narcissistic politicians (TrumpCard to TurnBull, DumbBott to ReJoyce, SomebodyStopMe...) but en masse, at the Lismore City Hall, with other punters hoping for the same deal. I say “hoping” as you never know what form comic-relief will take – will the comic actually be funny? The comedian must feel the same way – will the crowd be up for it?
Comedians walk the tight-rope more than most performers: this is an exercise in communication and observation; relegation and distribution; delivery and response. So many contingencies to take into account – demographics, geography, socio-economic groupings and ‘what’s happening now’. To be a solo-comic, a stand-up comic, with only your wits and your mental tap-dancing skills to cling to, it can be mighty lonely up there on stage, delivering to an audience hungry for a laugh. Inventing and maintaining your profile; marketing an ongoing comic-career path – not for the feint-hearted!
Enter Tommy Little, introducing himself and making his omnipresence known right from the get-go. Tommy separates the crowd straight off – in a good way: young and old; male and female; audience moving around (thank heavens for late-comers and early-leavers) and whole sections of the theatre. Like a Masterchef, Tommy has his ingredients ready, his menu planned and the timing for the bake locked-in, yet also allowing for all possibilities; after all, this is what separates comic genius from basic. Reading the crowd must be vital to a comedian – rolling with the punches and punching above your weight. Mr Little has it covered. He is ready for anything.
“Are you walking out already…?” Tommy asks of the first person to exit, asking his name. We got to know Jo-el intimately, through the course of the evening, with Tommy admitting it was the “weirdest start to a show ever”. Jo-el, returning much later, and after further scrutiny by Tommy, says in his defence, “Never trust a $7 padthai….” and Tommy jumping into, “That’s how I’m going to remember Lismore.”
You’ve got your toilet humour (always good for a base laugh); you’ve got your matchmaking and innuendo; you’ve got your art class (I learnt a lot) and one-liners; gags and moments with Tommy’s mum; you’ve got your current situations and past situations and everything in-between. Seamless and confident, cleverly working the room, unscripted and unscrupulous, Tommy Little brings the audience realisations and gesticulations for young and old alike. Hitting on fashion and the denim short-pocket-hanging-out syndrome, I laughed like a loon. I don’t often laugh out loud (I do laugh on the inside in appreciation of a well-told tale) I cracked up (pardon the pun) at that jibe, in-synch with Tommy’s vision and applauding his delivery. Judging by the response from the audience, he has that common appeal with everyone, from one point to the next, with local jokes and constant verbal movement.
Tommy Little finds a place for everyone, asking the question, “Why is anything anything?” and asking us to find a moment of happiness. Well, Mr Little, you gave me many moments of happiness and some “Brrrrrr Brrrrrr” satisfaction – job done!!
Last King of Stupid
Venue: Lismore City Hall NSW
Dates: 10 March 2018
Tickets: $25 – $36