The Main Auditorium at Brisbane City Hall is a beautiful piece of architecture and a good-sized venue for a stand-up comedian to perform in. Tom Gleeson, one of the most firmly established Australian comedians of today, looks right at home in it as he strides up to the front of the stage and starts engaging the audience.
Tom, who jokes that he is famous but only “ABC famous” provides edgier material away from the television cameras. This is not unusual for stand-ups who do television work, but Tom is so relaxed with material that would raise gasps with others but here raises more chuckles. It almost feels like half of him is daring us to be outraged and the other half is daring us to admit that it is truthfully what we think too. There is something in his delivery that makes his material non-confrontational yet anything but safe.
Standing out in the middle of a very empty stage with row upon row of people stretching away from him, it’s clear when he engages audience members who have to repeat themselves or call out random things that this is a stand-up at the height of his powers. His material covers a broad spectrum from generations who were or were not smacked by their parents, to the same-sex marriage plebiscite, airport security, the Royal Commission into Catholic abuse and trips to Bali and resorts at Ipswich. Not necessarily in that order and all covered effortlessly in between talking to the audience.
While there are great punch-lines aplenty, it is Tom’s attitude that gets the laughs, especially with some off-the-cuff remarks at audience members he’s engaged. A treat is at the end where he puts it out to the crowd to ask questions about whether certain things he said were true. This could prove risky but Tom keeps the momentum going and gets laughs out of his confessions. A certain likeability comes to the fore in these moments too; as the subtext reveals that everything he does is structured to make us laugh – hard. That we do Tom, that we do.
Tom Gleeson Dates8 April – Fortuna Spiegeltent (Newcastle)
11 April-19 April – Comedy Theatre (Melbourne Comedy Festival)
27 April – Spiegeltent, Wollongong
5 May – Canberra Theatre Centre (Canberra Comedy Festival)
18 May – Enmore Theatre (Sydney Comedy Festival)
19 May – The Concourse, Chatswood (Sydney Comedy Festival)