Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Review: Nice People Nice Things Nice Situations

12 April 2019

Going to Rhys Nicholson has become something of a tradition for my Mum and I. As we peruse the thick catalogue of shows for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival each year, he is one of the few acts that has remained on our list. That is, until this year when Mum decided she didn’t want to make the pilgrimage out to the city to see him. I was of a different opinion, and made the trip to the Victoria Hotel on a particularly dark and chilly evening.

And thank goodness I did. Squashed together in a somewhat shabby function room, the audience takes some winning over. There are clearly some partners of straight women in the room who need some convincing, who will only release a laugh if it is positively squeezed out of them. Fortunately Nicholson could not be more aware of his audience demographic, and is quite the expert at finding their sweet spot. It is a matter of mere minutes before everyone is giggling together, and by the end of the show these have turned into silent wheezes of hysterics.

His set is mostly new material, with smatterings of some classic lines and stories that tend to reappear throughout the years. This mixture of content only serves to support his dynamic delivery, a mixture of far-away yelling and close-up crooning, a kind of style that demonstrates just how familiar he is with a microphone in front of an audience. Moving nimbly around the stage and at one point into the audience, this medium is his domain. What makes a great comedian is not just funny jokes, but a charismatic delivery, something embodied completely by Nicholson in this show.

Content ranges from gay fur babies and custard-filled pastries to the archaic practises of nostalgic mums and relentless homophobia online. It is an eclectic bunch of topics which are woven together through queer personal experience. Although the comedy is hilariously self-deprecating, the subtext of the gay experience and how it is still something plagued with harassment and casual jibes runs beneath. The set is as subtle as it is critical – there is nothing overly forceful about the delivery, and it is refreshing to watch something that manages to be both hilarious and have a message. Through his jokes and important content, Rhys Nicholson delivers once again, and continues to cement himself on my Comedy Festival must-see list.

Rhys Nicholson’s Nice People Nice Things Nice Situations is playing until April 21.

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