By Mihika Hegde | @mihika_h
The bar was set high for comedian Rhys Nicholson who last year married fellow comedian Zoë Coombs Marr in Australia’s first “gay wedding”, to raise awareness for the issue of the lack of equal marriage in Australia. Nicholson daftly adapts his humour to cover personal topics like sexuality, bullying, and anxiety to broader issues like the countries asylum seeker policy.
He is acutely aware of identity politics, and astutely able to deliver a killer punchline even in the darker moments of his show, “I’m Fine”. Even when talking about mental illness, Nicholson manages to make light of what can be a crippling condition, whilst also not romanticising it. There’s a candour to the way he speaks about being bullied and a sharp tongue to follow every trip down memory lane. “I’m Fine” is not about sentimentality but a more universal experience; of trying to stay afloat and making sure you look accomplished while doing it.
Nicholson’s comedy doesn’t shy away from sexuality, or the experiences that come with being gay. It didn’t come off as tokenistic, nor does it tiptoe the line between agreeable and funny. He’s not afraid to make you uncomfortable, or to dish up the truth and his comedy is better for it.
Starkly apparent in his work is that through a sharp perceptivity, Nicholson can slice through the bullshit and the meaningless etiquette and get to the heart of the matter. He’s adamant when he says, “let your freak flag fly” and includes a solid two minute bit about foot fetishes. Even though the show isn’t one to bring your parents along to (unless they have a consistent track record voting Greens and Labor – a lifelong track record), it’s one that’ll have you in stitches. The humour is crass and inappropriate, but he balances his dialogue with witty, piercing punchlines, so there’s something for everyone.
As a first time Rhys Nicholson show-goer I wasn’t sure what to expect, but he’ll be one to watch in the coming years. “I’m Fine” bares the intimate details of growing up, reining it in, and coming out, and leaves you wanting more.
‘I’m Fine’ will be in Melbourne until April 23. For more information, head to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival website.