Melbourne International Comedy Festival | Stuart Goldsmith – ‘Compared to What’

By Vern Yap | @yap_vern

As a rule of thumb, I try not to watch any videos of comedians before I go to see their live shows, as I know that comedians must reuse some jokes, and I do not want to build any expectations before seeing them. Even so, some comedy shows still fall a little flat, eliciting nothing more than a wry twitch at the corners of the mouth and that strange little puff of air through your nostrils. The worst ones make you smile out of sympathy, because you know humour is not always easy and you feel bad for the comedian on stage, except you’re not there to feel bad in the first place.

Happily, Stuart Goldsmith’s comedy show fell in neither of those categories: it was refreshing, and delightful in the way its humour appealed to adults; not through crass, R-rated jokes, but through shared experiences and things that only adults see which make you shake your head and smile.

The venue was a little stuffy, and since everyone was dressed for the cold weather outside, this rapidly became somewhat uncomfortable, and did detract from my enjoyment of the show. However, the performance was excellent, and Stuart rapidly got a read on the crowd. He analysed the composition and reactions of the crowd blatantly, but in such an adroit way that it became part of the show.

Though the beginning was a little slow, he got into his stride, and soon got the whole room laughing – myself included. This was quite a feat, as I have had no experience with some of the jokes and stories he told, but his charisma and the way he told his jokes were so well-executed that I could not help but see things from his utterly ridiculous and hilarious point of view.

What I really enjoyed about Stuart Goldsmith’s show was the profanity, or the scarcity of it. Sure, there were some moments where a particularly filthy joke cropped up, and it was enough to make you remember – ‘oh yes, this is an adult comedy show’ – but it was never so liberally used as to become tiring. The juxtaposition of his self-effacing manner with the sheer crassness of what he says only makes it funnier. It made for a nice contrast against some performers who are fond of using shock tactics, and use vulgarities or racist jokes as a staple instead of a garnish to their show, and was quite tastefully done.  

Overall, Goldsmith’s show ticks a lot of boxes. Although his stories about parenthood might scare you off from ever having a child, he brings you in on his difficulties in keeping a freshly-made human alive with a wink and a smile. I cannot say this enough, his performance is something I recommend catching, especially if you have a night free, and would like to impress someone with your superior cultural tastes.

‘Compared to What’ will be in Melbourne until April 23. For more information, head to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival website.

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