Sunday, 11 April 1999

Craig Charles, 11 April 1999

 at Athenaeum Theatre 1 until April 25, 1999
Melbourne International Comedy Festival

If you are a Red Dwarf fan (ABC TV) or you like really crude comedy, Liverpudlian, Craig Charles will be your sort of stand-up. There are glimmers of genuinely funny material and he has talent, timing and a high profile. However, if you do not find funny, jokes about excreta, penises, bodily fluids and masturbation, this show is not for you.

There is a difference between common denominator and lowest common denominator humour. Charles is the latter. He is obnoxious, loud, grotesque, loves "sick jokes" and sexual innuendo - but so do 12 year old boys.

The geeks, yobbos, bozos and booze-heads in the audience seems to like him but there were long, yawning periods when my entire row did not crack a smile. He would probably go down well in the Leagues Clubs.

Charles is determined to be the "Bad Boy" on stage. Nothing has changed since he was here about ten years ago. He galumphs about the stage, swills beer, complains about being forced to drink shandies to keep him sober during the hour-long delay to his show, attacks women, Americans, the royal family.

His smartest and probably funniest material is five minutes of "things that come to mind when you bounce a soccer ball on your head." He did this on Hey, Hey It's Saturday, probably because it is the cleanest of his material. It is full of quirky musings such as "Why don't people who believe in reincarnation leave their money to themselves?"

His routine about "Safety Nazis" is funny. While he savours a cigarette, he piles derision on those who carp about passive smoking. He describes the situation as "Tobacco Apartheid". Picture those poor outcasts, smoking outside the office block in the freezing wind. Charles is having none of it.

He does some good material in what he describes as his obligatory section about sex and relationships: "the stand-up union demands it." You will also be surprised at what Kylie Minogue and Hitler have in common and it's not the moustache.

Charles is certainly full of surprises. He does a long, rather peculiarly exhibitionistic section about his surprising underwear, standing with his trousers around his ankles. He intersperses three quite sweet and romantic poems amongst the crass material and these stop the jocks in the audience in their tracks. He reads an excerpt from his recently released book called The Log. I can't say I enjoyed him, but others might.

By Kate Herbert

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