Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2011Venue: Capitol Theatre Sunday 3 April 2011
Reviewing Rich Hall entails the same challenge as reviewing Rod Quantock. They both regularly perform in the festival, they’re both exceptional performers, and most reviewers probably ran out of anything new to say about them three shows ago. But just saying “it was really good” won’t fill 300 words.
Rich Hall has a strong on-stage persona that has been honed over the years and is a joy to watch. This nomadic Montanan specialises in a sort of surreal ranting that finds odd tangents on the world around us – it’s unlikely anyone else in the festival is making highly topical Mothra gags, or adroitly summing up the UK coalition as “a couple of gay antiques dealers who can’t stand each other – it’s like a bad sitcom”.
This time round he has no band, but simply a keyboard and guitar, which he plays in the second half of the show (not at the same time, I should stress).There’s a new song plus a few Otis Lee Crenshaw favourites thrown in, including “Do Anything You Want” and “Bundaberg Rum”.
It’s a very laid-back show – at one point Hall asked an audience member the time so he could determine when he should finish. He enjoys chatting with the audience and it’s often hard to know how much of his material is planned and how much he’s genuinely making up on the spot.
If you’ve seen Rich Hall before, you’ll know what you’re in for and you’ll have a great night. If you haven’t seen him this is as good a place to start as any. And if you don’t have time to see a lot at the festival you might as well pick a show that’s guaranteed to please. Long may Rich Hall reign.