Michael Chamberlin – Joy & Despair

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Michael Chamberlin – Joy & Despair


These can all be very funny, of course. But it takes a particular kind of guts to stand on a stage by yourself for an hour without even a microphone and try to make people laugh.

Michael Chamberlin has that kind of guts. And in case you weren’t sure, he tells a story to prove it: he recently asked a woman on a date. To her face. Not by text message or Facebook or even on the phone. To her face. “I deserve a medal,” he quips.

But his show this year is not about bravery as such. It’s called Joy and Despair and he takes the audience on a fast-paced tour of his fast-paced brain.

There seems to be slightly more despair than joy in the show’s content, from fantasising about what to buy with lottery winnings before realising he hadn’t bought a ticket, to getting stood up by the woman he was brave enough to ask out. His move to Sydney features heavily and there are plenty of stories about the slightly dodgy suburb where he lived.

Chamberlin’s observational style is much broader than the all-too-common musings on, say, the differences between men and women. This is a plus, as are his carefully crafted stories and high-energy delivery. It also seemed a relief to the front few rows that he didn’t single anyone out for audience participation. He walked on stage and got straight on with the jokes.

In some parts of the show, audience members weren’t prepared to reward punchlines with more than warm chuckles. But there were other parts they demonstrably enjoyed. It’s a little like the highs and lows of the show’s theme – except if you see this show you’re in for more joy than anything else.