REVIEW: Sam Taunton – Rooster (Melbourne International Comedy Festival)

5 April 2021

I first saw Australian comedian Sam Taunton perform in 2019 at the Palais Theatre, when he was the opening act for Rob Brydon’s live show I Am Standing Up. I remember thinking ‘Wow! What a great opening act!’, and wanted to see more of his work. And 2 years later, here we are. Taunton’s first solo show Taunts Down For What premiered in 2017 and he was nominated for ‘Best Newcomer’ at the Melbourne Comedy Festival. You might notice him from his appearances on The Project or you might have seen him perform in his 2019 Pinder Prize winning show Straight From The Shoulder Sam. He also performed a sold out show at the Edinburgh Fringe. 

I reached out to Sam after the show to see what he would say to university students attending his show and this was his response:

“If you’re a uni student, please watch my show as a cautionary tale of what not to do when you graduate! Get a job, do your masters. Just do anything as long as it’s not pursuing a career in stand up comedy!”

Sam Taunton’s Rooster never has a dull moment. He presents the rawest version of himself and is entirely relatable. He never tries too hard and it’s safe to say the whole audience was hanging on to every word and laughing hysterically at each joke. Taunton is endearing, charming, awkward at times but always completely himself, which explains why he easily connects with his audience. 

The performance runs like a beautifully constructed narrative where each joke and story links back to the other. He discusses his life experiences over the last few years, some painfully embarrassing and others downright hilarious. He shares how he spent his lockdown and there are also many transport related stories which left me thinking—who knew transport could make me laugh this much?

Despite being in a small conference room at The Westin (such a fancy hotel!!!), the constant laughter filling the room made it seem like a larger theatre. There was a screen which he used at moments throughout the performance. There were pre-recorded videos as well as images. One of the images projected was sections of reviews of his previous shows where he poked fun at how he was portrayed. Hopefully this one makes the mix, or maybe it’s better if it doesn’t? 

Before Taunton even came on stage, I already knew I would love the show. As the audience rolled in, clips from Titanic, Dawson’s Creek, Xena and The O.C. flashed on screen. Did Sam watch all these?! I felt like I was at home considering all these shows are on my TV at one point or another. There was an overwhelming sense of nostalgia which maybe we all needed coming back to a comedy show after COVID. Also, if you’re not a fan of audience interaction in comedy, you’re safe seeing Rooster because there was no participation. Given I was in the front row I fully expected to be picked on, but thankfully Taunton doesn’t need this participation for a laugh, he is fine on his own.

At the end of his show, it’ll all make sense why Taunton has chosen the title ‘Rooster’ and this clever link is the cherry on top of the performance. This is definitely a show I would see again! Taunton has taken the art of comedy and crafted it to find his own distinct voice. 

So with that, I’ll leave you with three parting words—Opal, Car, McDonalds. That obviously means absolutely nothing to you now, but when you see the show you’ll get it. Guess the only option is to book tickets. Enjoy!


‘Rooster’ is showing at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival until April 18th. 

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