Rich Hall has been doing comedy longer than some of us have been alive so it’s refreshing to see that in his latest show at the Brisbane Comedy Festival he moves with the times.
Great comics make observations about life and so as they age, they observe different stages of life, family, etc. and Rich certainly talks with mirth about his wife and child but there’s no pokes at generational differences which makes for a nice change.
Rich Hall is a career comedian. His name may not be as recognised as other comics, a fact that he got a good laugh out of during the show, but once you see him and hear his voice he is undeniably recognisable from thousands of television appearances across four decades and three continents. He’s the Yank that makes fun of America and then pivots effortlessly and makes fun of us too. A glum-faced and angry-voiced older man who ultimately reveals himself as a romantic sweetheart. A comedian with edgy material and righteous befuddlement, yet never mean.
There was a polish to his one-night-only appearance at the Powerhouse Theatre that reflected that. Rich engaged confidently with his audience, milked moments with frowns and pauses easily, and cracked wise about himself when things lost momentum. When a punch line landed the whole room erupted but as time wore on there was a casual relaxed atmosphere in the air.
Some of the bits were variations of earlier pieces from previous performances; the man after all has been through a few crazy U.S. elections, gun massacres and gotten to observe Australia a lot over the years. That is not to say he was coasting or pulling up old material, he just recalibrated some stuff he’s been doing over the past year or two to see if he can perfect it further. Some observations felt like things that have been discussed before and are now established truths but other stuff felt new and of now. Performing some songs with audience members in the last few moments put everybody in a good mood and involved some timeless humour about relationships.
In the end it didn’t matter, if you weren’t familiar with Rich he got you to laugh and if you were familiar he still got you to laugh. I do look forward to his kid growing up and getting on Tinder though just to see what material he spins out of that. Until then Rich Hall is still one of the best comedians to see anytime, anywhere.
Rich Hall performs at Melbourne Town Hall (Melbourne Comedy Festival) 29 March-8 April.