Ever laughed so hard that your cheeks hurt? That was my happy affliction after seeing Peter Helliar’s ‘Big Boy Pants’ show at Brisbane Comedy Festival.
Returning with what he calls his “most recent show yet”, Peter had the packed Powerhouse Theatre audience in stitches throughout his one hour set, as he lent his considerable wit and charm to observations on everyday absurdities, moral judgements, and his grown-up decision to have a vasectomy.
I love a performer who makes an effort to connect to his/her audience, and Peter did that from the get-go; thanking the Brisbane audience for the comedy fodder provided by Queensland politicians Bob Katter, Pauline Hanson and Barnaby Joyce. Pauline especially copped a ribbing, with Peter blaming her theatrical Senate burqa unveiling stunt on her watching too many Scooby Doo villain unmaskings growing up.
A regular co-host on Channel TEN’s news, current affairs and entertainment panel programme ‘The Project’, Peter’s observations on current affairs came thick and fast. The believability of Cocaine Cassie’s ’60 Minutes’ interview was the butt of one joke, with Peter likening watching her travelling “Pinocchio rash” to watching a Gotye music video. A joke about pay parity, which started off mocking the number of pays men versus women would need to dedicate to buying their partner an equal value engagement present, took a more personal turn when Peter said, “Of course I believe in pay parity. Do you know how much we’re paying Lisa Wilkinson? I want some of that. I want some of those sweet Wilko dollars.”
Using mime along with dialogue, Peter brought stories to life. My personal highlight of the show happened midway when Peter read out joke ideas that he had jotted down on pieces of paper whilst in bed. “Do chickens know they have wishbones?”, “Are you still allowed to make mental notes or is that considered politically incorrect?”, “Was there ever such a thing as an actual clotheshorse?”, “Where is teenage Jesus in the Bible?”, and the pièce de résistance, “We should get rid of silent letters.” The ensuing joke about a couple of “Melbourne wanker hipsters” giving their newborn child a name using entirely silent letters was comedy genius, and had me clapping my hands with glee.
‘Big Boy Pants’, which kicked off at the Adelaide Fringe Festival in February, marked Peter’s return to the stand-up comedy circuit after having a year off. Welcome back Peter. You’re a bloody delight.
Peter Helliar Dates16-18 March – The Vagabond, Garden of Unearthly Delights (Adelaide Fringe Festival)
30 March – Spiegeltent Hobart
13 April – Spiegeltent Newcastle
14-21 April – The Comedy Theatre (Melbourne International Comedy Festival)
29 Apr – Spiegeltent Wollongong