Review: Cal Wilson’s ‘Gifted Underachiever’ teaches a life-long moral

Review: Cal Wilson’s ‘Gifted Underachiever’ teaches a life-long moral


Going to a Cal Wilson show is like having a conversation with your mum after not seeing her for three months or so. What’s new with the neighbours, what are the kids doing these days, what signs of ageing have you started to experience. Gifted Underachiever is her latest catch-up over coffee as part of the 2019 Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Throughout the show, Wilson keeps us posted on the new updates in her life since her last appearance on stage. She recounts the growing number of times she’s been recognised out and about, including by the doctor conducting her intimate medical examination. She’s also learned how to pet a dog correctly, which is certainly handy.

She remarks on the little moments in life that one might overlook or complain about at home. Yes, you should have your wallet out and be ready to pay at the supermarket if there’s someone waiting behind you. No, perhaps  you shouldn’t ask to hug a stranger in a way that comes off as more of a thinly-veiled demand.

Within the set also lies the wisdom only a mother could acquire with age. Wilson tells the story of a man who can’t seem to comprehend there may be more identities than male and female, gay and straight. Falling back on the slippery slope fallacy, the man cries, “where will it end?” and “what would you say if your son falls in love with a fruit bat?”. It’s a absurd question that can really only be treated with an eye-roll.

Wilson’s response? “When is the fruit bat coming over for dinner?” There are many idiots Wilson takes on in Gifted Underachiever and the solution always seems to be simpler than you’d expect. It’s exactly what any caring mother would say, not because the fruit bat scenario is a likely one, but because the hypothetical is so absurd, you can’t do anything but kill it with kindness. Who knew the routine would come with a life teaching?

It’s hard to pick out any blatant flaws in Wilson’s work because – much like a regular conversation – there’ll always be ebbs and flows of laughter. Though, Wilson offers a routine that, to the Gen Z population or the younger half of the millennial generations, might seem a bit too much like a fully grown adult is trying to relate to the youths. Her observations on Instagram might be intriguing for an older bunch, but are potentially something heard before by the people who live on the app.

For better or worse, that’s why Cal Wilson is the perfect mum comedian. She’s charming, works well with others and leaves behind a warm, fuzzy feeling that stays with you after leaving the venue.