I’ve always considered that I would be a lousy comedy reviewer.
I mean, comedy being just that little bit like sex, not everything turns everyone on. I’m often awkward at comedy gigs. For my mind at least, the bulk of standup seems to play on the basic premise that different is funny and if you’re able to make the audience feel like that are a part of the insider group that is heaping scorn and derision upon outsiders, then they will laugh along with you. All the better if that audience group feels just a hint of risk that they themselves might be different and therefore wrong, because nobody likes to get inside faster than those who are afraid to be on the outside.
Naturally, when I decide to become the Filipino-Australian equivalent of Margaret Cho, the sort of hasty insider stereotyping of my mother and her plastic furniture will be undeniably edgy. Fierce even. Because I’ll do it with exactly the sort of insider intellectual panache that has come to mark all the best comedy. Maybe.
Ross Daniels’ show, Punked, which I saw last night at the Brisbane Powerhouse as a part of the Brisbane Comedy Festival does none of these lazy things.
Having interviewed Ross on 4ZZZ last week, I was lucky enough to come and see the comedian who had so patiently persisted through the crackly sound of the greatest transmitter on earth.
The show is slick, pacy, entertaining, beautifully charactered and able to move between the light and dark of adolescent punk life in Brisbane in the 70s with ease. Obviously an accomplished stand up, Daniels is perfectly comfortable ad-libbing to latecomers and mobile phone ringing audience members alike, while composing three chord punk specials to brussel sprouts. He is also an excellent vocal mimic and character actor, with a dry, good-natured wit that brings Molly Meldrum, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, his grandparents and a pin-ball wizard schoolmate to life with verve and affection. And police brutality with chilling alacrity. The show covers just a few years of Daniels’ emerging punk identity and is a theatrical, thoughtful and genuinely funny punk meditation on coming of age in an age of police terror.
Get to it.