Rhys Nicholson’s latest comedy show Eurgh is appropriately named. If you’re not sure what eurgh means, Google is your friend.
Since quitting his lowly-paid office job to embark on a lowly-paid career in comedy, the 22-year-old comedy freshman has managed to slew audiences, in Australia and the UK, with his brackish sense of humour.
Eurgh is part confessional, part parable and part didactic sermon, though not in the strict religious teaching sense. Openly homosexual, and an atheist, Nicholson has a true love–hate relationship with religion and, in particular, religious fanatical groups like the Westboro Baptist Church, whose Twitter feed he bombards daily with images of gay porn. Nice.
Nicholson admits to an irrational fear of becoming a born-again Christian, and concedes to making some dubious life choices, the least of which include starring in the occasional pantomime. It’s this brand of self-deprecating, confessional humour that the audience seem to respond to.
Sharply dressed in a blue velvet blazer and bow tie, Nicholson cuts a swathe figure as he bursts on stage from behind a red velvet curtain in the cloistered upstairs surrounds of the Portland Hotel. The room is no bigger than a waiting room, and Nicholson jokes that it’s “where they store the chairs” in between comedy festivals, pointing to the less-than-glamorous side of stand-up comedy.
He jokes that he could pass for a “tired Tilda Swinton” with his flaming red hair and angular features and lets the audience come to the realisation themselves, who in turn snigger, snort and te-hee.
But it’s no joke. His resemblance to the androgynous former model, turned actor, turned Bowie muse is frightening. He could also pass for Buddy Holly with his Poindexter glasses.
For the next hour or so, we are invited into Nicholson’s ribald world. By this stage, we’re all friends, so it’s ok, but one couple apparently found his level of information sharing too much and walked out. “El dente homophobes maybe?”.
Maybe it was his references to the priesthood they didn’t like. Or his plentiful stories of drug use and lurid sex. But he also endears with stories of his grandmother Nancy, bless her heart, who had the courage to stand up in church and proclaim that being gay is “not all about dancing and anal sex”.
There’s also an inflatable toy llama, for the parable.
His style of comedy is more laconic than sardonic and his perfectly clothed exterior contrasts with his mischievous intentions that loom large in the very small room. However, he once listed his top three things in the world as Wurther’s Originals lollies, puzzles and warm cardigans, so how eurgh can he be?
Nicholson originally wanted to do a drag theatrical version of The Diary of Anne Frank, but his producers quickly put the kai-bosch on that idea. I wouldn’t say he tamed things down for this show, but if you like your comedy served relatively raw, Eurgh ends on Sunday.