The Comedy Festival is, in a sense, a crystal ball, offering a reliable glimpse into the future of Australian comedy. Citing Rhys Nicholson’s form in Eurgh, the future’s in good hands.
Nicholson, a dapper individual, endears himself to the audience almost immediately, making light of the Gold Room’s ramshackle, bomb-shelter decor. Settling into the hour, he takes aim at Catholic priests and indulges in some drive-by satire of the asylum seeker policies. Most memorably, Nicholson explores the perils of substitute teaching, recalling students’ merciless ‘gaslighting’ tactics.
Eurgh has a lot to offer, Nicholson using the hour to demonstrate his versatility as a performer. Nicholson is wonderfully self-deprecating, entirely unafraid to lay himself on the line for the sake of a laugh. He’s a fine purveyor of filth, too, his off-the-cuff quips drawing big laughs and guttural groans alike. He’s a young master of shock-value comedy, his nonchalant stage presence a smokescreen. Eurgh includes more than a few mildly-vulgar asides, detailing, for example, sticky situations in hotel showers.
If none of this sounds particularly appealing, don’t panic: commendably, Nicholson knows better than to rely upon crass material at every turn. Instead, his show tends to focus more upon engrossing short stories and unique observations. Who else in the festival is waxing lyrical upon human relationships, using guard llamas and sheep? It’s safe to say no one else is tapping into that surprisingly rich vein of comedy.
A cool, charismatic yet wonderfully self-effacing performer, Nicholson is well on his way to being a major player in Australian comedy.
BY NICK MASON