Fin Taylor is set to poke audience’s aplenty at this year’s MICF
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Fin Taylor is set to poke audience’s aplenty at this year’s MICF

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It’s Fin Taylor’s first time at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, but he arrives with the internationally esteemed stand-up show, Lefty Tighty Righty Loosey. The politically oriented hour of comedy enjoyed a sold out run at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe, following similar success for Taylor’s 2016 show, Whitey McWhiteface

The two shows have a different focus – broadly speaking, race and political allegiance – but both are driven by Taylor’s interest in taking comfortable, implicitly left wing comedy audiences into uncomfortable territory.

As a result, a number of cerebral reviews have been written about Taylor’s stand-up, underlining the thematic substance and ideological efficacy. For the UK comic, however, what matters most is the immediate audience response.

“The stuff I talk about is quite high stakes; people get very tense,” Taylor says. “Laughter’s a release of tension, so the more tense people are, the bigger the laughs. That’s why I like talking about the stuff I talk about. I’m not talking about it in order to put across a point of view. It’s more that I like having fun with how uptight and tense people can get.

“It’s definitely more important to me how much the audience laughs, as opposed to the journalistic response. But obviously the critical acclaim is lovely. I’m not spurning that.”

Lefty Tighty Righty Loosey sets out to lampoon certain attitudes of the comfortable, so-called liberal elite. Especially vulnerable to attack are things like hyper-political correctness and left-wing puritanism. The irony running through it is Taylor’s own white, middle-class, left wing stance. And it’s precisely because he inhabits this social sphere, that he was motivated to subject it to scrutiny.

“I basically wanted to do something to try and get the Edinburgh audience’s attention,” he says. “The Edinburgh audience is basically white, middle-class and left-leaning. You want to try and present what these people think they think to them and go, ‘You know this is rubbish, right?’

“It’s much more interesting. I would never want someone to come to the gig because they think I believe the same thing as them. I quite like painting the audience as this ignorant liberal blob that I can poke. I like that dynamic.”

Taylor’s work has frequently been described as provocative, chiefly for its dismantling of recognised liberal views and middle-class self-regard. Not surprisingly, he endured some sketchy moments when trialling material for inclusion in the hour-long shows.

“When I was doing the Whitey show two years ago I remember there being a couple of times where people threatened to punch me and the promoter had to walk me out of the back door because someone had misunderstood something,” he says.

“I get called provocative all the time. But I think a lot of comedians think the same thing, and if you just question those thoughts people automatically assume that you’re this wild provocateur. But I don’t think it’s that controversial. I know when I’m trying to be controversial and when I’m not.”

Taylor might downplay the controversial emphasis of his work, but moments of intentional provocation remain in Lefty Tighty Righty Loosey.

“It’s funny to justify something that’s on the face of it very wrong. That’s what a lot of comedy is. If you can justify something and you can keep an argument going that you know is wrong, through logic and jokes, I think an audience will go with you. If you start out with a premise that’s obviously wrong but you can justify it in a way that seems watertight, then it’s funny.”

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