Four men sitting behind me are cheering and shouting at the footy on someone’s phone. Multiple people are wearing footy scarfs. This is the perfect representation of the target audience for Titus O’Reily’s MICF show Better Living Through Sport — boisterous and passionate AFL fans. Just be prepared for your team and its supporters to be the target of one or many of O’Reily’s satirical digs.
O’Reily, a comedian, writer and radio and TV personality, is totally at home in an upstairs room of The Imperial Hotel; cheers from people watching the footy from the bar below can occasionally be heard. His relaxed nature and smirks —as he watches the audience laugh at every one of his lines— makes it obvious that his humour is not a performance. He would surely be no different in a conversation from everyday life; poking fun at your footy team’s losses or stereotypes through banter that bonds sporting fans more than anything.
You definitely need a reasonable knowledge of sport to follow much of the humour as O’Reily’s one-liners make reference to AFLX, footy final results and supporter stereotypes, without background context. O’Reily clearly knows his audience and respects them as equivalent sport buffs. He trusts that people at his show remember, for example, Melbourne’s finals capitulation last year. No recap of the scores is deemed necessary. The result is a smooth-flowing, efficient show that skips from topic to topic without losing pace.
Throughout the 55-minute show, audiences are given a tonne of advice on how to improve their lives through the lessons of sport, including:
· Methods for how to deal with a child who barracks for a different team and tips for preventing it in the first place. Some Techniques include repetitive playing of your club’s song to your wife’s pregnant stomach.
· A discussion on the rudeness of people who interrupt you while watching sport, particularly at any point during a five-day cricket test, is met with communal understanding by the room.
· Why free agency should be brought into marriages: to allow husbands and wives to test the market for a better deal after their first few years together.
· How to win a Paralympic gold medal without any Paralympians, taking from the true story of Spain’s 2000 Paralympic basketball gold.
· Whether the success or failure of a group of 20-year-olds on the weekend should affect your mood so much.
Better Living Through Sport is a very enjoyable show by a top-quality comedian. It’s intelligently put together and everything it claims to be. O’Reily’s balance between which team he targets in each joke also keeps the entire audience engaged and laughing. His avoidance of profanity for cheap laughs is also a refreshing change from many comedic sets.
I highly recommend this show, and if that’s not enough, O’Reily claims that it will make you rich, healthier and ridiculously good looking (not yet proven, will report back soon).